Read an Excerpt
Welcome to the Project
IT IS 1:15 A.M., a Tuesday night like any other. A lone light burns inside a beautiful Tudor-style custom home on the edge of the Northwest
Hills in Austin, Texas. Inside, yet another busy project manager struggles to complete his work for the day, entangled within the project management jungle. In this unrelenting, always-on, pressure-cooker environment, he juggles hundreds of e-mails per day a endless meetings that accomplish little, stakeholders with impossible expectations, and new problems that should have been foreseen before they consumed additional money, resources, and attention.
His two remaining tasks for the night are to finish up preparations for his monthly ops review with management, scheduled for the next morning, and to generate an approach on how to get his design and test functional teams to work better together. The two teams have been fighting with each other for weeks and are doing little real work to solve their issues. That meeting is tomorrow, as well, “sometime after 5:00 P.M.”
Down the hall, his two gorgeous children, five and three years old, slumber away. He guiltily resolves, yet again, to take them to the park on Saturday. Or perhaps it will have to be Sunday. He did at least spend a few minutes with them earlier that evening, tossing a small basketball, before they went off to bed and he off to his
Mac. His wife, hoping to spend some time with him watching a
DVD together, chatting about the kids, or talking about the possibility of a vacation, has given up and gone to bed.
He sends several e-mails and then, cursing to himself, realizes that he has misplaced a key notebook. Quietly, he slips into the master bedroom to check a stack beside the bed. He glances fondly down at his dozing wife as he finds the notebook and sighs as he leaves the room. He wishes there were another way to easily lead his large project group in the complex task at hand. So many issues, he muses. Got to make it happen, though. Winners do what is necessary to win. With one last look at his wife, he thinks firmly,
There will be time for catching up on all this when the project is over.
His cell phone rings from the study. Frustrated that he cannot finish his current tasks, he hurries to answer. It is his Asian customer a full of questions about the latest status report. Wearily, he tries to explain. He can tell his customer is not very happy with the answers.
Forty-five minutes later—not really done yet—he stops for the day, noting e-mail traffic coming in from all over the world, including places where it is even later at night. Exhausted, he falls into bed, trying not to make too much commotion. He rolls over and almost immediately drops into sleep. The alarm will go off in four short hours, and he will do it all over again.
Sound familiar? Welcome to the project management jungle!
Escape Is Possible from the Project
You may think that immense stress and a large time investment are the price of success as a project leader. But there is another way. In the past few years, I have led multiple teams in several companies to success without working excessive hours and while experiencing much less stress than our friend here. This book will help you do the same on your projects without going to lengthy weeklong training classes or spending massive dollars on a new process.
Sadly, success in the project management jungle is too often not the end result of all the effort involved. Enter “project success rate”
into a Web search engine and the results are disturbing, with many studies quoting success rates of only 30 to 50 percent. Of course a the majority of studies look at myriad teams in a variety of industries and applications, and each study has its own definition of success a making it hard to find a baseline for a clear picture.
Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle is aimed primarily at active project managers who work with knowledge worker teams.
The term knowledge worker, of course, covers a lot of territory. After all, virtually everyone in today’s workplace works with some sort of data. We will focus on knowledge worker teams employed in information technology (IT), software, hardware, systems design, and other engineering or technically related applications. These professionals struggle in the project management jungle every day.
Read on to learn about five key factors that create this jungle environment. Then keep reading, and by the end of this book you will have learned how to thrive there.