Breaking Through the Project Fog: How Smart Organizations Achieve Success by Creating, Selecting and Executing On-Strategy Projects (JB Foreign Imprint Series - Canada.) Review

Breaking Through the Project Fog: How Smart Organizations Achieve Success by Creating, Selecting and Executing On-Strategy Projects
Average Reviews:

(More customer reviews)
This book is a very useful PM practitioner-oriented book that would also be valued by PM scholars with an interest in program management and more specifically program-project strategy development. It is useful for executives and program managers because it has a strong focus on the process of defining expected benefits and outcomes from projects and how choices of which project proposals to proceed based upon linking project outcomes to the organisation's strategy. It is based upon Dr Norrie's Doctor of Project Management (DPM) thesis (2006) undertaken at RMIT University, Melbourne Australia. I was his DPM thesis supervisor and so am very familiar with the background work to this book. It is difficult to translate a thesis into a book that practitioners will find readable and yet retain the authority of a doctoral thesis. While I saw familiar passages from his thesis in the book he managed to change the style, maintain fundamental content and manage to sneak in a chapter with a solid literature review towards the back of the book that PM scholars will particularly value. It was a rewarding experience to see the work again, so neatly re-packaged in this form, after almost two years. It may well be worth others who are contemplating turning their thesis into a practitioner-oriented book to use this book as a model. The publisher, John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd, is a highly respected publisher and so this book stands apart from so many practitioner-oriented books that are published by obscure publishing houses.

The content follows Dr Norrie's professional journey as a project director and successful IT entrepreneur that is also coloured by his current senior academic role at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. When he first embarked upon his thesis it was with a focus on project value in a more holistic sense and at the beginning of that journey he was interested in using a balanced scorecard (BSC) approach to measuring value and benefit of projects. That resulted in several conference papers and a peer reviewed journal paper (Norrie and Walker, 2004). As the research proceeded and developed he turned his attention from the BSC towards an interest in selecting the `right' projects from an array of portfolios of programs of projects. This focus endured and carried him through his thesis and through this book. The book comprises 10 chapters that logically follow an argument for rigorously aligning choice of projects to business strategy and it is cap-stoned with concise 20 page literature review and 24 page bibliography that condensed his doctoral thesis literature review and retained many of the thesis citations that PM scholars may find useful.

Chapter 1, `Spotting the Project Fog', serves as a very engaging introduction. It uses the first person in a way that explains Dr Norrie's journal that is shared by many senior PM practitioners. He explains the basis of his ideas and draws upon some empirical work in his thesis to illustrate the scope and scale of his data sample that supports his arguements. This is an informative approach as many practitioner-oriented books often use assertion and opinion based on the author's consulting experience alone. This work is supported by experiences of not only Dr Norrie but also the many hundreds of project managers and project directors that responded to his thesis surveys as well as PM practitioners that he has addressed at numerous conference presentations and executive briefings. In this chapter he presents improvements to curent project portfolio management (PPM) models and he concludes the first chapter by clearly stating his objectives "... proposes a valid theoretical strategic scoring model that will work to enhance both the clarity of PPM for most firms and also improve the probability that the portfolio of projects ultimately selected by the executive team will opitimize execution of their strategy" (Norrie, 2008: p18).

In Chapter 2, `The Importance of Being Strategic', he introduces and discusses PPM concepts. As with Chapter 1, he draws upon his thesis and so assertions made are supported by his empirical study. He draws upon the literature of economics in a subtle way and cites and critiques the work of Robert Cooper for example. Many readers with an interest in PPM will no doubt be aware of Cooper's work. Dr Norrie also draws upon quotes from senior PPM executives that he interviewed and has had extensive contact with.

Chapter 3, `Navigating Through Foggy Strategy', extends his argument from the preceding chapter. In this chapter he introduces the balanced scorecard perspective. Dr Norrie explains how it can effectively link to PPM. He clearly draws upon his thesis work in an engaging pragmatic way--while the structure of a thesis can, and should, be clear and logical, it can often be couched in academic protocols that practitioners and lay-readers may find difficult. It is easy to follow the logic this of chapter without being burdened by qualification of the research methodology reducing the impact of the message given.

Chapter 4, `Managing Project Risks, Returns and Resources to Maximize Benefits', explains how his improved PPM model works in practice. This chapter, in my opinion, explains the crux of his approach better than his thesis did. Readers who are considering writing a book from their thesis should consider writing the book at least a year after the thesis has been examined and passed. This has advantages of reflection and hindsight to help clarify the work.

Chapter 5, `Creating Small, Smart and Mighty PMOs to Steer the Way', co-written by Dr Norrie's colleague Lucy Proteau, allowed Dr Norrie to extend the applicability of his thesis and test it--as well as to reflect upon the practicality of the idea. This chapter provides practitioner with a framework with which to apply and practice better PPM. It concludes with a series of do's and don'ts which, although slightly prescriptive, is often expected in a practitioner-oriented book.

Chapter 6, `The Role of the Board: Integrating Measurement and Accountability for Project Results', was another chapter that extended the thesis with another colleague of Dr Norries - Janice Wooster. This chapter was, in my opinion, a shrewd inclusion. Implications of PPM for managing upwards, the way that a purported improved approach to link strategy with choice of projects, is an important aspect. PM scholars with an interest in PM and PPM governance and the role of the project sponsor and champion would find this chapter useful.

Chapter seven, `Good Leadership in Foggy Conditions', was co-written with Carol-Ann Hamilton and provides a further extension of Dr Norrie's thesis. This adds a further dimension to the practical application of PPM and is written in an engaging practitioner-oriented style.

Chapter 8, `Sweeping Away the Fog in the Private Sector', is the first of two chapters that discuss how PPM can be used in practice. This content was on a series of case studies from Dr Norrie's research activities that led to his DPM thesis. It is written in the practitioner-oriented style of previous chapters and flows well. This is followed by Chapter 9, `Two Case Studies: Clearing Up the Fog in the Public Sector', that was also based on case studies from Dr Norrie's thesis. This also explains how the improved PPM model would work in practice and is easy to follow. It is perhaps more extensive in content than Chapter 8 but, in my opinion, this adds to its usefulness. The Public Sector is also very interested in project management and PPM because it has to define, measure, and justify benefits that are both commercial and tangible as well as being social and intangible. PM practitioners in the public sector would find this chapter particularly interesting.

Chapter 10, `Where to Go from Here', wraps up the book and summarises, in a handful of pages, the intended value and lessons to be learned from it. It provides some useful advice and poses some interesting questions of readers. The final part of the book presents the 20 page literature review and 24 page bibliography Appendix. The overall impression I got from this book, (especially having been privy to, and perhaps somewhat biased by, seeing numerous drafts of the actual thesis and being a participant as his thesis supervisor) was that it is a very readable book that can be readily appreciated by both practitioners and PM scholars. I ordered 5 copies for the RMIT University library based on that assessment. I gather that it is selling well to practitioners and I think that those undertaking a Masters or Doctorate in PM in this area would also find it of value.

Norrie, J. (2008). Breaking Through the Project Fog: How Smart Organizations Achieve Success by Creating, Selecting and Executing On-Strategy Projects Toronto John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Norrie, J. and Walker, D. H. T. (2004). "A Balanced Scorecard Approach to Project Management Leadership." Project Management Journal , PMI,.35 (4): 47-56.
Norrie, J. L. (2006). Improving Results of Project Portfolio Management in the Public Sector Using a Balanced Scorecard Approach. Doctor of Project Management, School of Property, Construction and Project Management. Melbourne, RMIT University.

Click Here to see more reviews about: Breaking Through the Project Fog: How Smart Organizations Achieve Success by Creating, Selecting and Executing On-Strategy Projects (JB Foreign Imprint Series - Canada.)

Product Description:
A trail of mismanaged or terminated projects in recent years has cost the North American economy $100 to $150 billion dollars annually in lost productivity and shareholders capital. Unfortunately, the gap between project selection and project execution is often symptomatic of the onset of Project Fog, an all too familiar business situation in which projects are started and stopped constantly; resources fall short of the project workload to be executed; and, in the end, the entire effort is seen as a failure. A guide to sidestepping the usual hazards that often spell Project Fog,?this book bridges the gap between executives who develop strategy and decide what projects get approved, and the project managers who have to execute those projects flawlessly. It provides a roadmap so that project managers can partner with executives to align their portfolio of projects with overall business strategy, ensuring that?things get done right.?

Buy NowGet 16% OFF

Want to read more honest consumer review about Breaking Through the Project Fog: How Smart Organizations Achieve Success by Creating, Selecting and Executing On-Strategy Projects (JB Foreign Imprint Series - Canada.) now ?


Post a Comment