As we grow in our profession, we build on
- A base of formal education and instruction in
our chosen discipline
- Our experiences in applying our professional
- The people who influence us along the way
The third item can come to us in several
- Mentors and people with whom we work
- Seminars and lectures
- Via books (and other media) presenting
groundbreaking concepts by visionaries
I have no doubt than my craft has been
strengthened by dozens of these visionaries; men and women who have had the
foresight to see the forest for the trees and the courage to carry their
message to the masses.
My personal library is stocked with the published works of these giants who
have made a difference in the way that we manage. Most of these are not
“project management” books, but rather books that address the issues that we
all face, in any discipline. This broader understanding is essential, as we
cannot be successful in our project management endeavors by just applying the
technical practices of project management. In the project management arena,
we deal with more than scheduling and cost control. We have to also excel in
problem solving and decision making, in communication, and in all those
“people skills” that help us to work together and to get the most out of our
efforts. Hundreds of management books have been published on these topics.
The books that I have selected here all have a direct bearing on how we can
be successful in the practice of project management. Here, then, is a
selected list of visionaries, their concepts, and their publications.
General Management Topics
Joe Scanlon worked closely with Douglas McGregor, starting in 1946. His
concepts of the nature of man in the workplace matched McGregor’s “Theory X”.
He proposed methods for labor and management to join in meeting the business
goals and to share in the gains for such success.
Among these methods were: (1) bonuses to be shared by the entire team for
meeting goals, (2) employee cost savings programs, (3) gain sharing, and (4)
open book management. The key idea behind these methods was that the workers
were in the best position to contribute to improved methods and productivity
and that they should be partners with management, rather than the typical
boss/worker rule. Many companies went on to adopt what became known as the
Ref: A collection of papers on Scanlon’s ideas and work can be found on the
website of the Scanlon Leadership Network:
See also: Douglas McGregor, “The Human
Side of Enterprise”, McGraw-Hill, 1960. This essential component
of our library contains a chapter on the Scanlon Plan as well as the rest of
the author’s profound discussion of his “Theory Y”.
Edgar H. Schein
Authority, according to Schein (re-stating a view postulated by Bernard &
Simon), implies the willingness on the part of a subordinate to obey because
he consents, that is, he grants to the person in authority the right to
dictate to him.
Schein goes on to claim that "an
organization cannot function unless the members consent to the operating
authority system, and that this consent hinges upon the upholding of the
psychological contract between the organization and the member."
According to Schein, for these individuals to achieve these goals in the
workplace, and to obtain satisfaction from their work, depends to a large
measure on two conditions.
- First, is the degree in which their own
expectations of what the organization will provide them and what they
owe the organization, match what the organization's expectations are of
what it will give and get.
- Second (assuming that there is an agreement on
expectations) is what is actually exchanged -- money in exchange for
time at work; social-need satisfaction and security in exchange for work
and loyalty; opportunities for self-actualization and challenging work
in exchange for high productivity, quality work, and creative effort in
the service of organizational goals; or various combinations of these
and other things.
Ref: Edgar H. Schein, “Organizational Psychology”,
Rosabeth Moss Kanter
In her critically acclaimed book, The
Change Masters: Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the American Corporation,
Rosabeth Moss Kanter asks: "How can
an internal environment be created for members of the organization which will
enable them to grow in their own unique capacities?" "How can
organizations be designed to create optimum relationships between various
subgroups which tend to develop within them?"
She then goes on to cite examples where such an environment was created and
discusses the results. Her findings and advice have helped to move
organizations to adopt behavior that motivates individuals to excel.
Ref: Rosabeth Moss Kanter, “The Change
Masters: Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the American Corporation”,
Simon & Schuster, 1983
Geoffrey A. Moore
In his two monumental books: Crossing the
Chasm and Inside the Tornado,
provides insight into market dynamics. He discusses the life cycle of a
product and what happens when the demand for the product peaks. There are
some important messages for project managers about the explosive benefits
that may result from being the first one to market. This provides ample
justification for accelerating project deliverables.
Ref: Geoffrey A. Moore, “Inside the
Tornado”, Harper Business, 1995 (Also: “Crossing the Chasm”, 1991)
Charles H. Kepner &
Benjamin B. Tregoe
A significant function of project management is problem solving. We’ve all
seen situations where the PM, ever anxious to move beyond a problem, throws
all kinds of resources at the problem without ever really figuring out what
Kepner & Tregoe point out the folly of such behavior and lay out a structure
for getting at the cause of problems and moving toward a rational decision
for corrective action. Since I read their book, about 35 years ago, I always
face a problem with the question: “What has changed?”
Ref: Charles H. Kepner & Benjamin B. Tregoe, “The Rational Manager: A Systematic Approach to Problem Solving and
Decision Making”, McGraw-Hill, 1965 (Also, “The New Rational Manager”, Princeton
Research Press, 1981)
Who says that wisdom has to be dry? With great wit, bordering on the absurd, Adams reminds us of the very stupid conventions that
often get in the way of getting to the goal.
Ref: Scott Adams, “The Dilbert Principle”,
Harper Business, 1996
Project Management Topics
It seems as if everyone who owns a word processor is publishing a book on
project management (even I have two of them). There’s lots of good stuff out
there, including classics from recognized and prolific authors (Cleland,
Kerzner, Mantel & Meridith, and Dinsmore). I have selected a few others
that have found their way to my bookshelf because of what the say or how they
Robert J. Graham
Bob Graham and I shared a cubicle in 1986 while on a consulting engagement. I
found that his insights on the behavioral side of this project management
business were quite profound. They are interestingly presented in his 1985
Ref: Robert J. Graham, “Project
Management: Combining Technical and Behavioral Approaches for Effective
Implementation”, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985
James P. Lewis
Of all of the books on the basics of project management, Jim Lewis finds a
way to make this complex discipline appear to be simple. Here, the essentials
of project management are presented with clarity and precision.
Ref: James P. Lewis, “Project Planning,
Scheduling & Control”, Irwin, 1995
Quentin W. Fleming
& Joel M. Koppelman
Quentin Fleming is the recognized guru on Earned Value Analysis (EVA). His
1988 book, Cost/Schedule Control Systems
Criteria, is the bible for EVA. He later teamed with Joel
Koppelman to publish a book on EVA for the layman. This was a welcome edition
on EVA, as it recognized the value of earned value performance measurement
for every project (rather than just for projects where C/SCSC was required on
selected government contracts).
As you will find from reading this book, EVA is a very simple and valuable
capability that is available in most project management software.
Ref: Quentin W. Fleming & Joel M. Koppelman, “Earned Value Project Management”, Project Management
Eliyahu M. Goldratt
There are two significant things about Eli Goldratt’s book, Critical Chain. One is the subject.
Critical Chain Project Management is based on Goldratt’s Theory of
Constraints, and represents a branching away from the traditional CPM. It has
created quite a stir as the CCPM camp argues with the traditional camp about
the virtues of each philosophy.
The other significant aspect of this book is its format. It is written as a
novel. It makes for some very interesting and enjoyable reading, even if you
do not fully buy into its premise.
Ref: Eliyahu M. Goldratt, “Critical Chain”,
The North River Press, 1997
Nothing in project management is as important as communication. Yet, it is
this function that often suffers the most – with potentially disastrous
Dr. Tannen, a professor of linguistics, cleverly illustrates how people often
hear things differently than we intended them to do.
Ref: Deborah Tannen, “That’s Not What I
Meant”, Ballantine Books, Reprints 1991-1992. (Also available on
Many of my favorite books were published in the mid 60’s. This era of the
“flower child” also favored the emergence of numerous self-improvement
philosophies and a raised awareness of our behavioral interactions.
This was the period of books and classes on Transactional Analysis. We
learned how to act in our Adult ego state, and how to guide others to do so
(rather than to revert to Parent or Child ego states – which are
destructive). While, on the surface, T/A might appear to be just some
psychobabble, it was startling to see the effect of moving in and out of
these ego states during class exercises.
Ref: Eric Berne, “Games People Play”,
Grove Press, 1964. Also: Thomas A. Harris, “I’m Ok – You’re Ok”, Harper & Row, 1969. Also: Muriel
James & Dorothy Jongeward, “Born to
Levine, with 43
years of service to the project management industry, is founder of The
Project Knowledge Group, a consulting firm specializing in PM training, PM
software selection, evaluation & implementation, and PM using
microcomputers. He has implemented or enhanced the project management
capabilities of numerous firms, often combined with the selection or
implementation of computerized project management tools. For more information
on Harvey Levine or the Project Knowledge Group, please visit http://home.earthlink.net/~halevine/.
Mr. Levine is the leading consultant to the project management software industry
and is recognized as the leading expert in tools for project management. He
has been Adjunct Professor of Project Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute and Boston
University. He has
conducted project management public seminars for ASCE, AMA, IBM, PMI.
Mr. Levine is the author of books, articles and videos on Project Management.
His 2002 book, "Practical Project Management: Tips, Tactics, and
Tools", is still available from John Wiley & Sons. Mr. Levine's new
book, "Project Portfolio Management, A Practical Guide to Selecting
Projects, Managing Portfolios, and Maximizing Benefits", Jossey-Bass,
was released in July, 2005. Mr. Levine is past president of the Project
Management Institute, a recipient of PMI's 1989 Distinguished Contribution to
Project Management award, and has been elected a Fellow of PMI.
Mr. Levine has offices in Saratoga Springs, NY and San
Diego, CA. His
e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.