Archive for the ‘Book review’ Category:

APM Book Review: The Mentoring Manual, Julie Starr

Here is the full review for the Mentoring Manual published in APM’s Project magazine Summer 2015 edition:

Book title The Mentoring Manual

Author (s) Julie Starr

ISBN number 978-1-292-01789-1

Publisher Pearson Education Limited

Price £14.99

It makes you look at mentoring from a different angle – helping you recognise where existing relationships may already adopt the role of mentor, and how to distinguish mentoring from other relationships.
The book encourages you to take on the theory as you work through it, even if you don’t fully accept the concepts rather than re-engineering to enhance your own methods.
The book benefits project managers in that it has short exercises to practice which are easy to follow and not too time consuming – this helps the reader fully grasp the methods and can benefit from quick win scenarios (ideal for those working in busy environments). PMs ideally should be nurturing their teams and the book uses business scenarios which can be aligned to your current needs. The book takes a common sense approach to delivering and makes you think about how mentees might receive information, a trait I would say is required for a PM, however to have a refresh is always good practice. This would make an ideal beginner’s book for PMs new to mentoring and is ideal reference material to keep on the shelf to go back to as it doesn’t need to be read from start to finish in one go. The general theme is about working on relationships, therefore perfect for any PPM professional who could benefit from assistance in this area. Arguably it is the relationship management which harvests the best results within projects and programmes. It’s not PM specific, so it is also good for all management professionals, it is this generalist approach which does however feed well into any given scenario – as PM can be very diverse this lends itself well to the field.
There is a split between self help content and practical detail, the switch between the two makes for a different approach to this type of book.
You are encouraged to question your approach and as such this will shape your methods and management style in a positive way as it really tries to embrace how our actions are viewed from all angles.

The-Mentoring-Manual

Book Review: The Project Management Coaching Workbook, Susanne Madsen

This review features in the APM Project Magazine October 2013.

Project header

Book Title: The Project Management Coaching Workbook

Authors Name:  Susanne Madsen
Publisher:  Management Concept Press
List Price: £52.77
ISBN: 978-1-56726-357-2

Full review here:

Susanne Madsen,  a coach in the field of project management – has delivered projects for a number of years and now supports others in the project execution . The book is designed to work through what you want to achieve from your projects, provide insight and provoke thought processes to help you achieve your goals. It addresses common challenges faced, providing tools and approaches which can be adopted to engage with on projects with an aim to drive a more confident and effective delivery approach. Susanne combines these tools and approaches to guide you through the bigger picture of managing projects, considering team leadership, effective relationship building and attitude to managing projects.

I must say that on a whole this is a fantastic workbook, as it really considers vital elements of what needs to be considered throughout the project lifecycle. As this is written from a coaching perspective the first step which talks through what you want to achieve is great because it is written for you rather than a text book which has a rigid path of author stating XYZ. By making you think about what you wish to achieve and the type of PM you want to be it really plays on your experiences and makes you think about how you can improve all aspects of your style and approach.

Each section has tips for different aspects of PM for consideration which summarises and bullet statements which makes for easy following and quick referencing. There are also a number of exercises throughout each step with tables and sections to write in key information – this forms a great way to actually engage with the book and encourages you to actually reflect on practices and score yourself on various aspects.

As this is a workbook, it benefits all those in the project management delivery domain – it is great for the less experienced in that it is well structured and runs through a great deal of process and can be used as a training manual for constructive support. It is equally useful for the well seasoned project manager who is happy to review their practices and keen to ensure they have not fallen into bad habits. I would also recommend the use of this book for group sessions, gathering groups of PMs to work through each section in weekly workshops.

Susanne has clearly dealt with a great number of challenges in her career, whether they be personally or through coaching others. Her ability to grasp the various aspects and structure the book in a way which is not daunting but is interrogating strikes a very pleasing balance. I have read a number of coaching books and not found any to be as engaging or easy to use, the reason for this is a less formal but professional approach – this is the sign of an excellent coach who believes in what they do and will happily share their insights.

Best books on change management

Have you ever looked out for the numerous books that are available on the topic of change management? With such a wide range of options, how will one know which book to select and which one will be worth reading? Here are a few books that would be very worth your time.

Navigating Through Change‘Navigating Through Change’ is the title of one book written by Harry Woodward and Mary Becham Woodward. This book presents its readers with a guide to live through all periods of change that are specific to human issues. Woodward is a change management consultant to many big IT and medical firms. In this books, he also offers a detailed strategy for change management that you can apply to a number of situations to help get through change from the very first impact up to its lasting consequences. Harry Woodward has also written another popular book titled ‘Aftershock: Helping People Through Corporate Change’. This is a practical guide to help employees survive the painful process of change in the organization. It gives you different examples of change – such as technological innovation, new management and limited resources – and tells you how to survive in each particular situation. This book has been field tested and not only does it help employees but it also helps managers to develop crucial skills and strategies to deal with the employees’ reaction to change.
Managing TransitionsAnother business consultant became the author of a book named ‘Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change’. In this book, William Bridges attacks that area of change which people not only avoid, but do not even recognize. This area is the human side of change. This book addresses both employees as well as managers in the business world today who are well aware that change is required to improve the performance of a business. William Bridges herewith emphasizes on the fact that it is humans who are responsible for making the change happen.

 

Leading Change‘Leading Change’ is one book written by John. P. Kotter that gives another view on change management. His main thesis of the book is that the reason why strategies for change often fail is because the changes do not really alter the behavior of humans. In this book Kotter points out the most common mistakes that effect change and he also provides steps for overcoming such obstacles. The process of these steps includes analyzing competition and thereby creating a sense of urgency and the identification of potential crisis. In addition to this book, John Kotter has authored another well read book titled ‘Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management’. Here, he not only addresses the issue of change, but also how change management is closely associated with leadership and management differences.

The books mentioned above are all dealing with different aspects of change. Therefore, deciding to read these few books is guaranteed to give you an overall perspective of the issues of change management and how employees as well as managers should deal with change.

About the author: Eric Lewis is an experienced blogger in various fields. He loves writing articles about translation services and books. Follow him on Google+.

Book Review – One Project Too Many for APM Project Magazine

Book Review – One Project Too Many for APM Project Magazine March 2013

Another book review by Nicola at The CV Righter appears in March’s edition of the APM Project Magazine – here is the full review:

Book Review

Book Title: One Project Too Many

Authors Name:  Geoff Reiss & Geoff Leigh

Publisher:  Project Manager Today Publications

List Price: £7.99

ISBN: 1-900391-12-0

 

One project too many

Introduction to the Book

This book is split into two sections – the first covers a newly appointed CEO to a supermarket chain, it is written in a novel format as opposed to a text book and talks through the discovery of the business current project portfolio. It is quickly ascertained that there are a lot of project which have no control and even no budgetary monitoring. Some of the projects benefits counter attack each other which leads the CEO to bring in an outside source to speak with the board and gain some buy-in to make significant changes without stepping on too many toes.The story continues with the consultant being employed at the company as a more cost effective move and then the business managers begin a new learning curve. As the book progresses it talks through structuring programmes of work and how to effectively put together a project team and using methods derived from OGC. The second half of the book runs through what is called “Anna’s files” – these are various pieces of documentation used throughout the first section of the book and run into further detail about the need and function of them.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The book is structured into two sections and nine chapters – the chapters are the first section of the book and the last section is not chaptered.

Highlights

The book is written in a real life situation format which is a refreshing change from the usual text book clinical approach. Steering clear of the formal approach and combining the novel style with case studies lends to a more relaxed but easily more informative read – often faced with stuffy text I can start to bore of the repetitive and sometimes obvious, skipping sections just to be able to keep myself awake and actually drive something useful and unique. This book is engaging and amusing too, putting the methods into practice and actually demonstrating how it can or might not work really helps the reader get a grasp of the realities of managing projects rather than pure theory.I particularly like the part where it is suggested that some projects should be closed – the response being that they have already poured money into them, but it is quickly established that the benefits would no longer be realised. Something which a great deal of organisations and project managers need to embrace – the emphasis, quite rightly was refocused on what they hope to achieve rather than just carrying on for the sake of it. The second section which addresses the files introduced throughout the process such as structuring and PIDs etc gives a deeper insight into why they are required and again because they are referring to the scenario in the first section they are easy to understand and contextualise.

Shortfalls

There wasn’t a great deal missing at all – in fact it reads really clearly and as such is difficult to put down; however some of the additional text which makes the book more novel like did begin to get a little boring and could have been reduced as the book progressed.

Who might benefit from the Book

Everyone will benefit from this book, whether you think you don’t need to know anymore about how to manage projects (this is covered in the book) to the beginner who may find the PM terminology a little hard to grasp initially as the book really gets to the roots of what, why, where, how.

Conclusion

This book appears to be aimed at those new to project management – however once you read it you may recognise some behaviours from your own business in there, especially as they originally thought they were doing really well. They were making money so what was the problem? It quickly transpired that the business was losing a lot of money on projects, but addressed this in a step by step manner – something all businesses could learn from. Therefore I believe it is relevant to all levels of experience and is certainly a step away from all the other books out there.If you have a list of books to read, this should be on it. It is something which can be read on the tube and is certainly one I would recommend for reference libraries in the office. Taking a fresh approach to a case study and giving that extra background really adds to reinforcing the need for structure in programmes and projects, even the very experienced will learn something, especially on the softer skills side of things.