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Kafka, Pulp Fiction, Beer and Projects

7:27 am IN Featured Know how Opinions BY

My first thought holding John Chapman´s book in my hand was: “what a weird title for a book on projects and project management”. However, it´s an extraordinary book and definitely worth reading it …. It differs from other project management books in perspective and depth. Neither boring theory, nor methodology is in the focus, rather the perspective of living for and working in projects. John Chapman provides bits and pieces of practical wisdom. For example the chapter “The seven deadly sins”, explaining how avarice, sloth, pride, glutton, anger, lust and envy shown by the project manager can dispirit and demotivate the team. John Chapman closes the chapter with words once said by Field Marshall Erwin Rommel: “Be an example to your men, in your duty and in private life. Never spare yourself, and let the troops see that you don´t in your endurance of fatigue and privation. Always be tactful and well-mannered and teach your subordinates to do the same. Avoid excessive sharpness or harshness of voice, which usually indicates the man who has shortcomings of his own to hide.”

Another great story is the one how Pulp Fiction teaches us on international diversity… It´s all about ordering a Big Mac, because in Paris it is called “Royal Cheese” and in Egypt people buy it as “Mega Mac”. Whilst it is the same thing we are talking about, we use different words, we interpret it with a cultural flavor and might end-up in a conflict because not all of our team members might understand it. This is why in IPMA we are paying respect to cultural diversity and diversity in all regards. We can profit from diversity in projects and project management. A conference in April will offer a great exchange on this topic.

In general, realizing projects is not rocket science, but common sense and applied ingenuity. Shortcomings in project management are revealed in this book through short stories, with particular sense of humor and malicious joy. Projects are viewed through the lens of a microscope. The insights provided are beneficial for newcomers as well as for experienced people. A great tour d’horizon and masterpiece of our profession.

- Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.

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