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"The Art of Project Management": Leading Teams and Projects--Hard-Learned Lessons For Everyday Situations

May 3, 2005

Sebastopol, CA--There may be something dryer than the phrase "project management," but usually it's shaken and served with an olive. And while the latter is often greeted with some sense of anticipation, this is seldom the case with the former. In fact, the mention of project management all too often evokes a sense of weariness, unremitting work, frustration, even failure--feelings that are completely inconsistent with the fact that all successful projects depend on effective project management. But it doesn't need to be this way, according to Scott Berkun, veteran manager of software and web development. In his new book, The Art of Project Management (O'Reilly, US $39.95), Berkun shares a lively, inspiring, and pragmatic approach to managing projects that draws on hard lessons learned from more than a decade of work in the industry.

"People work on projects all the time, and many of them fail, often spectacularly," reflects Berkun. "The ones that don't fail are often frustrating experiences for everyone involved. It doesn't have to be this way. Any business, especially software development organizations, can lead projects without making people miserable. In fact if they follow the advice in the book, it might even be fun."

In The Art of Project Management, readers learn how to plan, manage, and lead projects. But Berkun goes much further. His book is about creativity, situational problem solving, and leadership. "I wanted to capture everything I'd learned in a decade of leading teams of people at Microsoft, and do it in a way that would be fun to read, easy to follow, and useful for people in many different roles and industries," says Berkun. "I thought there were many smart ways of getting work done that I'd learned in my years in the software industry, and I wanted to share them with as many people as possible."

As Berkun points out, the examples in his book are from software development, but the concepts apply easily to other kinds of work. "I'm convinced that the challenges of organizing, leading, designing, and delivering work have much in common, regardless of the domain," he explains. "The processes involved in making toaster ovens, skyscrapers, automobiles, web sites, and software products share many of the same challenges, and this book is about overcoming those challenges."

Berkun adds, "Every time you use a product that's poorly built, hear about budget over-runs on public work, or learn of a schedule slip for something you were waiting for, you are witnessing project management challenges. How teams of people are led and managed has an impact on everything around us. The book covers decision making, dealing with stress, planning, creative thinking, and politics--issues that affect people anywhere that work is being done."

The Art of Project Management offers lessons of great value to people in the general business world, drawing on references and techniques from well outside the domains of engineering and management. The book is designed to be useful in several ways: as a collection of individual topic-focused essays, as a single extended narrative, and as a reference for common situations. Each chapter in the book focuses on a different high-level task, provides a basic framework, and offers strategies and tactics for successfully completing the task. Berkun covers topics such as:

  • How to make things happen
  • Making good decisions
  • Ideas and what to do with them
  • Specifications and requirements
  • How not to annoy people
  • Leadership and trust
  • The truth about making dates
  • What to do when things go wrong
  • Practical, motivating, and compelling, The Art of Project Management distills complex concepts and challenges into nuggets of advice that anyone involved in leading a project--or a phase of a project--can put to good use.

    Early praise for The Art of Project Management:

    "The Art of Project Management covers it all--from practical methods for making sure work gets done right and on time, to the mindset that can make you a great leader motivating your team to do its best. Reading this was like reading the blueprint for how the best projects are managed at Microsoft...I wish we always put these lessons into action! Berkun made me chuckle, made me think, and best of all, after just a few hours of reading, I found myself thinking of many ways I could make my team more effective and my products better."
    --Joe Belfiore, General Manager, e-home division, Microsoft Corporation

    "Berkun has written a fast-paced, jargon-free, and witty guide. It's a great introduction to the discipline and seasoned managers will benefit from Berkun's perspectives."
    --Joe Mirza, Director, CNET Networks (Cnet.com)

    "How I managed so long without this book baffles the mind."
    --Richard Stoakley, Group Program Manager, Microsoft Corporation

    "Its strengths are its basis in experience; the inclusion of many illustrative stories; and the thoughtful sections on specs, making good decisions, and politics...an excellent resource for someone trying to make sense of project management."
    --Kent Beck, Author of "Embrace Change: Extreme Programming Explained"

    Further reviews of The Art of Project Management can be found here.

    Additional Resources:

    The Art of Project Management
    Scott Berkun
    ISBN: 0-596-00786-8, 488 pages, $39.95 US, $55.95 CA
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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