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Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management [Paperback]

Scott Berkun
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 4 2008 Theory in Practice (O'Reilly)

In the updated edition of this critically acclaimed and bestselling book, Microsoft project veteran Scott Berkun offers a collection of essays on field-tested philosophies and strategies for defining, leading, and managing projects. Each essay distills complex concepts and challenges into practical nuggets of useful advice, and the new edition now adds more value for leaders and managers of projects everywhere.

Based on his nine years of experience as a program manager for Internet Explorer, and lead program manager for Windows and MSN, Berkun explains to technical and non-technical readers alike what it takes to get through a large software or web development project. Making Things Happen doesn't cite specific methods, but focuses on philosophy and strategy. Unlike other project management books, Berkun offers personal essays in a comfortable style and easy tone that emulate the relationship of a wise project manager who gives good, entertaining and passionate advice to those who ask.

Topics in this new edition include:

  • How to make things happen
  • Making good decisions
  • Specifications and requirements
  • Ideas and what to do with them
  • How not to annoy people
  • Leadership and trust
  • The truth about making dates
  • What to do when things go wrong
Complete with a new forward from the author and a discussion guide for forming reading groups/teams, Making Things Happen offers in-depth exercises to help you apply lessons from the book to your job. It is inspiring, funny, honest, and compelling, and definitely the one book that you and your team need to have within arm's reach throughout the life of your project.

Coming from the rare perspective of someone who fought difficult battles on Microsoft's biggest projects and taught project design and management for MSTE, Microsoft's internal best practices group, this is valuable advice indeed. It will serve you well with your current work, and on future projects to come.

Frequently Bought Together

Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management + A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (Pmbok Guide) - 5th Edition
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Product Description

About the Author

Scott Berkun worked on the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft from 1994-1999 and left the company in 2003 with the goal of writing enough books to fill a shelf. The Myths of Innovation is his second book: he wrote the best seller, The Art of Project Management (O'Reilly 2005). He makes a living writing, teaching and speaking. He teaches a graduate course in creative thinking at the University of Washington, runs the sacred places architecture tour at NYC's GEL conference, and writes about innovation, design and management at www.scottberkun.com.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Project Management, as it should be discussed June 5 2009
Format:Paperback
While the PMI and their published book of knowledge (PMBOK) are considered by many to be the standard in IT project management, I found this book to go far above and beyond those. While the PMBOK is a great reference book for various PM related tools, this book actually speaks to how to manage, how to deal with difficult situations, and many simple tricks of the trade.

It also demystifies project management and speaks to it at a level where anyone can grasp its basics. I highly recommend this for Project Managers, Managers and Team Leaders.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Scott Berkun use humor to make his point on several topics, which ease understanding of the various project management concepts. I enjoy reading this book because it contains lots of advices on people issues, not found very often in other PM books. The title is well chosen and aligned with the book content.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Project management is the glue between business needs and the technical work needed to satisfy it.

Rather than being a dry theory or methodology text, Berkun takes you through all of the aspects of managing your projects, from how to maintain schedules that work to how to avoid political pitfalls that can bring things to a grinding halt.

The book has a bias on the software side of things, but there is solid advice here for anyone who has to take up this glue role, even when it doesn't exist in the org chart.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  49 reviews
64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Updated version of a key resource. April 12 2008
By Leam Hall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Okay, let's get the one downer about the book out of the way; it's a second edition of Scott's The Art of Project Management (Theory in Practice (O'Reilly)). Not sure why the name was changed but it might confuse some folks. Okay, it confused me, not sure about anyone else. If you've recently read the first edition then you may want to borrow someone's copy to go over the exercises/discussion at the end of each chapter.

If you haven't read the first edition, you're in for a great time! This isn't a reference book, nor is it a cheat-sheet for passing your PMP. Scott writes as friends chat over coffee. To really "get it" you need that same head game. Find your personal motivation for making things happen, either at work or in your life, and slowly reflect on a single chapter over a hot cup of joe. Even better, find a couple friends who are just as success driven as you and work through the exercises together.

My introversion is so strong that last sentence was almost painful to write, but a deeply reflective level of mental processing is what you need for this book. When you have a chapter in your head you can go over the events of the past week and generally find ways you could have handled something better. Write them down, go implement the ideas, and keep doing that as your success rate grows. Use the exercies as dry-run scenarios and really put some thought into them. Build your experience and expertise in the shadows; when the spotlight is on you'll be ready to make things happen in a big way.
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Review Ever... Jan. 17 2014
By Terry MacDonald - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There is a lot of praise out there for Scott Berkun and this book in particular. I feel a bit silly adding to the list of reviews, but I decided to go forward anyway when I tasked myself with writing the best review ever. I think a lot of us are looking to figure out what is the best in a fast fashion. Word of mouth is always king, so Amazon reviews come as close as they can. So, why read Making Things Happen?

- Note that it is the new edition of The Art of Project Management.
- You will gain personal motivation to make things happen either at work or in life.
- The book covers how to be a great project manager, from gathering ideas to managing teams and schedules.
- It may not be all new news, but it's all the best management practices in one well-designed book.
- He introduces several key concepts and brings perspective to areas that may seem like common sense, but as the wise saying goes: "We need not be so much instructed but reminded."
- This book is more than just an overview, but you do need to continue to learn. For more in-depth looks into project management, one can read up on the Agile Manifesto, Lean Kanban principles; SEI's CRM for risk management; and The Practice of Creativity: A Manual for Dynamic Group Problem-Solving
- Scott Berkun's style of writing is really wonderful. His voice is both practical and vivid, engaging and clear. His level of expertise in communicating what it means to be a great project manager has transcended from author to teacher, which means you know he's good!

I hope you find this review helpful. Now, go make things happen!
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Buy For Project Managers May 30 2008
By Dan McKinnon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In the field of project management, 'Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management' is one of the finest books I have ever had the chance to peruse. From gathering ideas to managing teams and schedules, everything and anything is in this book that is a MUST BUY for all project managers or group leaders that want to update or learn new techniques for creating widgets in the real world and doing so efficiently and successfully. I think a chapter overview would be helpful to help the reader get an idea of the wonderous content contained within:

01. History of Project Management

I - PLANS

02. Schedules
03. What To Do
04. Vision
05. Ideas and how they come about
06. What do to with your great idea

II - SKILLS

07. Writing good specifications
08. Good decision-making
09. Communication and relationships
10. Process, Email, Meetings - Don't waste people's time
11. When things go wrong

III - MANAGEMENT

12. Leadership & Trust
13. Making things happen
14. Middle-game strategy
15. End-game strategy
16. Power and Politics

I was originally going to Highly Recommend this book but I think it's so fantastic I'm going to up it to HPR. If you are any way related to making progress at your job or possibly even life this can be useful, this book is a must read... NOW.

***** HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION
122 of 146 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Over praised, way too much May 11 2009
By Qiulang - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For those who gave this book a 5 star rating, I really suggest you think it again. To me, this book is over praised, way too much!! And there are several reasons why I am saying that.

First of all, the majority of the content has been expressed long before; I don't see anything new or groundbreaking. For example the author talked a lot about the importance of communication, trust, relationship, etc. in project management. But isn't that just common sense? Whoever does the project management job should know that pretty well. Not to mention that Agile/Scrum/XP guys have been saying these things for many years and in a much better and enlightened way.

Second, the book is flawed in the topics the authors chose to address. For example risk management is a big topic in project management, while there is only a chapter called "what to do when things go wrong" (which is not risk management exactly) and look at what he said, "calm down ... take responsibility ... do damage control ..." Again, common sense. And let's look at what the author said about the topic of execution, which makes things happen (Or "Getting things done") -- "Priorities Make Things Happen ... Things Happen When You Say No ... ". Well, I don't see any breakthrough ideas. And what I don't get is that, while the author spent so little time in talking about big topics like risk management and execution, he spent several chapters talking about how to deal with ideas, especially the ideas in design phase -- Chapter 5 "Where ideas come from" , Chapter 6 "What to do with ideas once you have them", Chapter 7 "Writing good specifications (i.e. writing the idea down)" and Chapter 8 "How to make good decisions (when facing several ideas)". For the book addressing the whole life cycle of project management, I just don't get the author's logic.

Third, it is very hard for you to read the book from cover to cover because there seems to be a tendency to go off at a tangent from time to time. The information author represented in each chapter actually prevent you from concentrating on the central topics of that chapter.

The exercises introduced in second edition are artificial. The most obvious change introduced in the second edition is the exercises introduced in each chapters. They were said to be "thought-provoking". So let's just check some of them. This is an exercise in the chapter "what to do when things go wrong" -- "One week into development, space aliens attack your office and your entire programming staff is hit with an alien space ray that makes them 50% less talented. You are the only witness to the event, as the ray erased the staff's memory of the event. ... " Seriously, you really believe figuring this question out will help you improve your ability for managing crisis ? Okay let's check another exercise in chapter "writing the good vision", "Research visionaries. Select any two: Gandhi, Malcolm X, Thoreau, Buddha, Socrates, Jesus Christ, or Confucius. What were their visions? How did they develop their ideas? ..." We are not doing philosophy, are we? BTW I actually like the author changing the book title from "the art of project management" to "making things happen". The term "the art of" has been overused, but in its original meaning, I really think it should be only referred to the great books like "the art of computer programming"

I don't mean to be harsh here and I am not saying this book is not good at all. Just seeing there are so many praises like "beg to be read cover to cover" or "great/classic..." makes me believe someone should stand up and raise a different, supposedly objective voice.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Add My Voice to the Chorus April 23 2008
By Brett Merkey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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Perhaps only a little off-key since I am not a project manager -- altho my professional life is made much easier by working with some dedicated ones.

I did not read the previous edition as the other reviewers did. In fact, I was not really intending to read this edition straight through. I was going to give it a good skim for those aspects of project management that intersect my own world as a Web application interface developer.

I have to say that Scott Berkun is a real teacher because I found the *whole* book to be relevant to my work -- and it was fun to read in the bargain.

This book is not in color and does not contain lots of fancy images. The illustrating and illuminating is done verbally. For once, this was enough for me because Berkun finds a way to make things both practical and vivid. From the text, it is reasonable to assume that his public talks are worthy events.

This is definitely a book to read for people who may not be project managers but who sincerely want to build their teams by understanding this important role better.

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