04 The Project Managers MBA: How to Translate Project Decisions into Business Success

Since its publication on November 1, 2000, The Project Manager's MBA: How to Translate Project Decisions has served as an important tool for project managers who must be judged by the company’s financial goals as well as their technical success.  The book has even served as a key text for project managers with MBAs.  The authors, Dennis J. Cohen and Robert J. Graham, carefully break down each concept into easy to understand terms that will enhance the job performance of everyone be they new or old project managers.  Even those with a Project Management MBA will benefit from reading this book!  Each of the carefully explained concepts is further enhanced by case studies and the case studies cover a wide range of entities including businesses, nonprofits, and government organizations.  These case studies are so powerful that project management training will come alive as the reader immerses themselves into them.   Read More→

Categories : Project Management
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04 Who Moved My Cheese?

Some books are just timeless staples that will forever be on bookshelves. This is also true of business books. In my personal opinion, one of those books is “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. More than 24 million copies of this book has been sold over the years and I could see another 24 million copies being sold in the future.

The forward of the book is written by another well known business book author by the name of Kenneth Blanchard. This endorsement in itself should be reason enough to read this book as far as I am concerned, but selling more than 24 million copies doesn’t hurt either. Since I write book reviews it should come as no surprise that I talk to people about business books and keep up with best sellers on the internet and in the New York Times. However, I haven’t heard much about “Who Moved My Cheese?” in many years and I felt it was time to bring it back out in the open again. Read More→

Categories : Business Books
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04 Cross Functional Teams

"Cross-Functional Teams” is a book by Glenn M. Parker written about the organizational structures in the corporate world today.  With the acceptance of project management practices corporate structures need to be consistently evaluated.  In this book, Glenn Parker takes a close look at how formerly vertical organizations come together in a team oriented environment.  These teams are vital for flattening organizations and speeding execution while eliminating group think.

This is a book that is very informative and has been used in academia for some time.  Glenn M. Parker is a consultant who has helped create high-performance teams at Merck & Company, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb, 3M, AT&T, NYNEX, Allied Signal, Sun Microsystems, and the EPA.  One particular class environment where this book has been used is a class called Project Leadership, Management, and Communications that leads to a certificate from The George Washington University School of Business.  This class is widely accepted by the Fortune 1000 and is one of the cornerstones in a seven class program leading to a Master Certificate in Project Management. 

While traditional organizations are vertical, this book looks at the modern organizational structures used by the top project management companies in the world.  Cross-functional teams are ultimately required for project success because of the varied skill sets that are needed on project teams.  While vertical departments still exist like Operations, Engineering, Quality Control and the like, the cross-functional team is an empowered team with representation from all departments. Read More→

Categories : Project Management
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May
24

The Goal

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04 The Goal

The United States of America once had a strong manufacturing economy in the days of people like Juran and Demming.  Today, most manufacturing is outsourced overseas.  However, some manufacturing is still completed in the United States and all manufacturing is a process we need to learn from.

“The Goal” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox is about a process of ongoing improvement written in a manufacturing environment but applicable to all aspects of business.  This is a book with more than 1,000,000 copies in circulation that has received high praise and it is justified.  I know of many companies that have personally bought cases of this book to distribute among their employees because of the message contained in these pages.

This book is written like many great books to teach through story telling.  My personal opinion is that this is a very good format.  It is, however, amazing that an Israeli author is teaching the United States about manufacturing in this book.  This really is a hard core business book written as a novel thereby making digestion of the message that much easier.

This book takes a close look at process analysis and bottlenecks in a manufacturing environment, but process analysis can be used in all aspects of business.  In the course of telling this story the author makes a very good point that in order for progress to be made in a business environment organizations need to challenge basic assumptions and drive continuous process improvement. Read More→

Categories : Business Books
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04 Surfing the Edge of Chaos

 “Surfing the Edge of Chaos” is a study of business survival of which I was a part of.  I can talk to events in this book on several levels since Hewlett Packard was one of the test cases and attest that the caption on the cover is true; “The first rule of life is also the first rule of business: adapt or die.”

Basically the book is the study of several businesses that have learned that when you force a team to the edge of the proverbial envelope that emergence and self-organization takes place.  This is to say that some people step up to new roles (emergence) and the team as a whole comes together to solve the problem at hand (self-organization).  This is a state that all high performing teams should find themselves in on a regular basis, but much like combat, you can’t live there.

While understanding that a manager must push his team to the point of chaos, you must later let them de-stress and move back toward the point of complacency before driving them to the point of chaos again.  This is the “surfing” effect.  You don’t actually drive them in to chaos and you don’t keep them there.  However, each time you drive the team to the edge of chaos your driving them a bit farther than before because in this way chaos is like a drug.  It takes more each time to get the same high and effect. Read More→

Categories : Business Books
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04 The Forgotten Man:  A New History of the Great Depression

As it has been said many times, those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.  The United States, and the world as a whole, is currently suffering from the largest recession since the great depression and that in itself makes this book a must read as we are trying collectively to pull out of the current recession in a new world economy.

The Forgotten Man:  A New History of the Great Depression is written by Amity Shlaes who is a senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations.  Bloomberg carries her syndicated column and Readers know her work also from the Financial Times, where she was senior columnist for half a decade (2000-2005), and the Wall Street Journal, where she edited op eds and served on the editorial board, eventually concentrating on economics (1983-2000).

The author certainly attempts to have the book tell the story rather than the writer and memoirs of that time in our history were researched to try to frame the readers mindset of the 1930’s.  You will be brought into the world of President Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, Wendell Wilkie, Paul Douglas, and Rexford Tugwell to name a few.  You will become aware how many viewed the Great Depression as a natural disaster of sorts and be compelled to look more into our current economy.  During the Great Depression people had lowered expectations for their standard of living and today we have begun to speak of the “New Normal.” Read More→

Categories : Business Books
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