Project Management

Book Review: Peter Taylor's "Real Project Management"

by Brad Egeland, May 21, 2015

The skills and capabilities you WILL need for successful project delivery

Real Project Management. What does that mean? Is there unreal project management? Is there project management that is meaningless, outdated, rigid to the point of not being helpful? Yes. That is what makes this book necessary. And, I might add… a great, enjoyable and informative read.

First off though, I must warn you. The term “project manager” turns up in the book far more times than anyone says “Norm!” on Cheers during its entire 11-season run. So if you’re playing a drinking game along with this book, you won’t win.

As I was asked to review this latest book by Peter Taylor, the self-professed “Lazy PM”, the title is what really caught me. Like Peter, I feel that there is project management, and then there is “real” project management. And by “real” I think we both mean what it takes to truly manage projects initiatives in today’s fast-paced, complex and mission-critical nature of projects.

Specifically, Mr. Taylor takes us through the move from the past, full of “accidental project managers” who arrived into the world of PM merely by accident and not by choice (he states that he spent 8 years as a project manager before he realized he was a project manager), to the “intentional project managers” of today who have entered the PM career field by choice and through education.

Key challenges in PM today

This book dedicates a good 100+ pages of material to top challenges faced by project managers today. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through the popularity of some of my own articles, it's this; focusing on PM problems and challenges - and trying to address how we meet those problems and challenges - is something that really resonates with the readers. I’m not saying that misery loves company. But I am saying that we all face these challenges as project managers just about every single day. And any material like this is something an experienced PM looking to better manage his/her next project can devour and use to extract good, practical and helpful strategic info. You’ll enjoy these pages…trust me.

If you’re an experienced project manager, you’ll find good takeaways from this book. If you're one of the new, young project managers trying to make this your career choice intentionally, then congratulations… you are specifically Peter’s target audience. The book – in it’s entirety – is a very good read with lots of input from other experts in the PM world as well as case studies and interesting data. But what I enjoyed the most was Part Four of the book, which focused on the future of project management.

The future of project management

Project management is always about managing projects. But the future of project management (and really the current), as I see it, is more about managing the engagement with next steps in mind. Peter feels the same way – referring to the future of project management being led by “consultative project managers.” I won’t give the full concept away, but these individuals are looking to deliver with future needs in mind as well as not moving forward with projects that don’t align well with the organization’s strategic needs. It isn’t just about delivering the project that the client asks for. It’s about delivering the value that they need today, tomorrow and five to ten years down the road.

My recommendation: Buy this book! You won’t be sorry. And the readers should not be limited just to project managers. The information contained within will be helpful to PMs and PMO directors, of course. But it will also be of great value to resource managers, CIOs, CEOs and any project stakeholders or organizational resource that can learn from good project management material and principles. If you ask me, this includes just about everyone in the business world today.

Coming up next: An insightful Q&A with the author, Peter Taylor, about this book, his key takeaways from this informative literature, and his views on project management. If you have questions you’d like to ask, let me know in the comments below.

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