The Project Manager - Mastering the Art of Delivery

Project management literature is often very theoretical, dry and bores its readers very easily. Very few books are written in a direct, human tone which manages to capture attention until the end. "The Project Manager - Mastering the Art of Delivery", by Richard Newton, is one of these few positive examples. The book has a certain elegance about it, starting with its simple design, continuing with its content and the way the author communicates with his readers. Plus, it features some very thought provoking ideas.

The Revolution of the Project Management Profession

"The standards of project management will keep on rising as the occupation continues to become more professional. The days when people become project managers simply because they had nothing else to do are over. The challenge for you as a professional project manager is therefore to learn the lessons and to continue to improve."

This is one of my favorite quotes from Richard Newton's book and I couldn't agree with it more. If you think about it, there are still many people who believe in the stereotype of a person with no true skills that is named project manager just because they have nothing else to do. Unfortunately, this stereotype is still a reality which plagues some organizations.

The second edition of "The Project Manager - Mastering the Art of Delivery", is a book for people who want to prove this stereotype wrong and have the desire to be professional project managers, which truly have a positive impact on their organizations and the way projects are delivered.

The Project Manager - Mastering the Art of Delivery

As you can imagine, the book covers almost all areas of project management: defining projects and project management, how to get things started, managing projects, dealing with change, handling communication, etc. However, it focuses more on what are considered to be soft skills: listening & talking, the traits of great project managers, personal styles to avoid and styles to encourage or getting the best out of your project team.

All the ideas and concepts are delivered in a very elegant manner: from the clean design of the book, the look and feel of each page, to the honest and direct manner in which Richard communicates with his readers. This is a book which stands out through its simplicity in both design and writing technique.

Communication Skills Make Great Project Managers

"Communication skills are the core differentiator between average and great project managers."

Richard is a strong believer in the power of communication and highlights what very few books do: communication starts with listening to your audience. He recommends fellow project managers to spend 50% to 75% of their communication time listening rather than transmitting. He actually dedicates a whole chapter to this idea, in which he shares the basics all project managers should be aware of: how to listen to your customers and understand their true needs, listening to your project team so that you are truly aware of what is going on, listening to your stakeholders. Only then he shares his perspective on how to plan the communication on your projects and how to communicate to deliver.

Project Managers are People Managers

"One of the main tasks for a project manager is to manage and motivate the project team to deliver all that is required for the project. Pure project management process and methodologies will not achieve this. A project manager above else is a people manager."

This is another key idea in the book with which I agree strongly. No matter how good we are at building the right project documentation and following processes and methodologies, in the end, we all are people managers, even when we are not direct managers of our team members. Building trusting relationships, being there for the team when you hit a rough patch, it goes a long way in executing a successful project.

In this chapter, Richard shares lots of useful tips and experience on how to best build your team and manage it throughout the duration of your project. A highly recommended read.

Personal Styles Limit or Enhance Project Success

"There is no right interpersonal style for a project manager, successful project managers have a variety of styles. But there are certain approaches to avoid, and some key attributes of style to develop."

You might say that this is common sense. However, I often see people which are successful project managers on the short term but, due to their personal styles, they never manage to develop trusting relationships with their team, relationships which would make them truly successful.

Richard spends valuable time to discuss the traits you should control and avoid as much as possible. Then he details the key attributes which help you be truly successful and shares some examples to help you develop those attributes.

Verdict - Buy

The verdict is very easy to give for this book: a definite BUY, especially for less experienced project managers. This is a must read which complements the literature on standard project management methodology. For the more senior project managers, it is a BUY as well, especially if you are at a stage when you think you already know a lot and are very comfortable with your skills. This book might challenge you in certain areas and open your eyes to things that you can actually improve.

If you are interested to buy it, don't hesitate to go to Amazon UK (for European Countries) or Amazon US (for North America). If you order the book using these links we will also receive a small commission to support the expenses of the site. A big thank you to those who do so.

Related content:

Reviewing Managing Change Step by Step
Head First PMP, 2nd Edition - Review based on Personal Experience
The Project Management Book: Why I Wrote It & Why You Should Read It

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