Roundtable on Project Management: A SHAPE Forum Dialogue Review

Roundtable on Project Management: A SHAPE Forum Dialogue
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Disclosure: I am the lead editor for this book as well as a contributor.
I re-read the Roundtable on Project Management just the other day. There was a project problem at my J - O - B, and something was nagging me . . . there's a solution to this, I know there is. Didn't somebody explain this to me once . . . Oh yeah, it's in the project book!
We wanted to create something to have on your desk to get a pointer or a nudge toward solving the problem of the moment. Having lived with the material for almost two years (not counting the forum time) it worked that way for me. Plus I got sucked right in and read the thing cover to cover, extracting three other little nuggets along the way. Pretty cool. Seems to work.
This book works as a wide-ranging, informal discussion of projects; pith-ful and pretty entertaining. It's not a project management manual - there are lots of those. But as a source of jiggles and complementary views it works. These days I give people aspiring to understand projects three books: Dwayne Phillips' _The Software Project Manager's Handbook . . ._ (which wasn't out when we had these discussions), _Software Engineering Project Management_ part of the outstanding series of tutorials from the IEEE, most edited by Richard Thayer, and _Roundtable on Project Management_. Between them, they form a balanced view, and an entry point into more developed information on any of the several approaches to projects.
Editing this book I learned that each project is a story that people live. And every project is made of the woven stories that individuals live. So the book models projects as well as describing them: it's a story made of woven voices. This book feels the way projects really feel. That's valuable, I think.
Editing _Roundtable_ finally started coming together when I re-read _Spoon River Anthology_ - also a bunch of independent stories, each part of a bigger tapestry. I'm no poet, and certainly not the master that Masters was. I did manage to recognize the model I was trying to emulate - I stole from the best. Successful projects are also made of woven voices, that form a whole. So the book models what project success looks like, too, I think.
If you're looking for "Tools and Techniques for Risk Management" or "MS-Project on steriods", or even "Collected Wisdom - A Project Manager's Guide" well, this is the wrong book. If you are looking for a source of nuggets for that nagging problem, and for a compelling story, one like the story you're living, well, this is very probably a good book for you.
And if I contributed to the quality of this book, it's mostly just what good project managers do: let the stories happen. I'll be a good project manager one more time and say that the four stars I gave this book belong to the voices in it - to the contributors. The one star missing is mine. I could only manage to get out of the way four stars worth.

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Product Description:
Hunting for lessons on software project management, consultants James Bullock, Gerald M. Weinberg, and Marie Benesh selected forty experts' most potent contributions to SHAPE, Weinberg's Web-based, subscription-only discussion forum.
New and experienced software developers and managers will benefit from this fast-paced dialogue on starting, steering, and finishing successful -- even not so successful -- software projects.
Contributors include Wayne Angel, James Bach, Jim Batterson, Marie Benesh, Rick Brenner, James Bullock, Brian Crook, Jerry M. Denman, Esther Derby, Joe Dindo, Dale Emery, Danny R. Faught, Pat Ferdinandi, Phillip Fuhrer, Jesse M. Gordon, Elisabeth Hendrickson, Kevin Huigens, Steve Jackson, Jim Jarrett, Steve Jenkin, Dave Kleist, Karen López, Pat McGee, Graham Oakes, George Olsen, Bill Pardee, Sue Petersen, Dwayne Phillips, Brian Pioreck, Brian Richter, Sharon Marsh Roberts, Stiles M. Roberts II, Johanna Rothman, Bertrand Salle, Brett Schuchert, Bill Seitz, John Suzuki, Daniel Starr, James Tierney, and Jerry Weinberg.
Whether you are a technical star adjusting to management responsibilities or an experienced leader looking for fresh perspectives, you will benefit from this intense dose of real-world wisdom drawn from so many managers' best advice.

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