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“Making Things Happen”

Scott Berkun
Making Things Happen. Mastering Project Management

March 2008, 408 pages

O’Reilly. Series Theory In Practice

ISBN: 978-0-596-51771-7

This is one of the books in my home library which is relatively new (I've bought it at YAPC::Europe in August of 2008) and at the same time its cover is already curved and rumpled. I was reading the book in metro, planes, busses and home. Nice reading.

“Making Things Happen” is written by a man used to work at Microsoft and took part in projects including Internet Explorer. Not that this is the browser everyone is happy but noone can doubt that that is an example of a very complicated software project which needs hard manager work.

The book consists of three parts covering different areas of project management: Plans, Skills and Management itself. It is aimed for managers and leaders of any level. As it is stated in the Preface, the book is suited for experienced team leaders and managers, new team leaders and managers, individual programmers and testers, or other contributors to projects, and students of business management, product design, or software engineering. Not being all of those myself, I can assure that seems to be truth.

There exist many modern techniques of how to manage projects; each is widely explained in multiple books. “Making Things Happen” does not propose any brand new technique or hi-end of people management. It just explores the bits of project flow in natural language. Different chapters cover both methodological issues and relations between people. How-to receipts are intersected with thoughts of problems arising when you work with people. For example, there is a chapter How not to annoy people. Everyone knows that it is not possible to make everyone in the team happy and follow his proposals, but not every manager is able to cease tension.

Ideas are illustrated by hand-made-style sketches (I don’t think that was a good idea). Here is an example of the discussion of how to handle different opinions after the problem was defined. Usually after a team is faced any new task, many different suggestions appear, and the task of a manager is to minimize the possibility of breaking the deadline. Estimations never work for long periods, that is why the author offers to split even that process into parts with visible sub-deadlines. Simple, but illustrates how important sometimes it is to have rigid marks in the creative process—the process which involves human brain producing ideas, which are not the subject of maths when you are trying to prepare the specification before fixed date.

Chapters are accomplished by exercises. This is an example of such questions, found after the chapter of the same title as the book itself:

Have you ever worked for someone who kept changing her mind? What impact did this have on your ability to get things done? What about someone who never changed her mind?

Finally, I’d like to note that the author of this book really talks about how to complete things. How to cut off parts which are not necessary and how to drive your forces towards the result.

5 stars. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

book, bookreview — 5 июня 2009

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