I was recently approached to review a book called Lateral Approach to Managing Projects: Simple Principles for Achieving High Customer Satisfaction and Mutual Profitability by H.W. Sit and Ling Bundgaard. In the spirit of full disclosure the book was provided to me free of charge to review.
Who would benefit from reading this book?
Project Managers and Managers of services organizations would find this book of value. Any one teaching project management would also find the book interesting.
The book is a story about a project manager with a failing project, over budget, late, and complaining customer. The project manager is having trouble figuring out what is going wrong or how to fix it. His manager calls him in and send him to a coach, who takes him through ‘lateral thinking’ to determine what the issues are and how to resolve them.
Some Key Messages in the Book
1. Contract ambiguity: Customer Satisfaction is matching expectations with delivery. This book makes the point that services contracts cannot be exact. In the purchasing process, the purchaser may think they understand the products and services being purchased and the sellers may think they understand the customer needs. Despite the best efforts of both the supplier and the customer, there are bound to be some contractual obligations that will be grey areas of understanding.
2. Executive communication is key to successful projects: It is not enough to just work with the implementation team. There is a very important communication process with executives and key stakeholders that is required to keep a project moving forward and keep everyone working together as a team.
3. Create Value in small chunks: It is easier to demonstrate value if you break up large projects into smaller deliverables and show progress by meeting the deliverables.
4. Customer and Supplier Teamwork is key: The book covers several techniques to engage the client’s team and prepare them to take over the project when the services are completed.
I would give this book 3 stars out of 5.
1. There are excellent project management best practices covered in the book. Most project managers would probably have been trained in these best practices but this book could be useful as a refresher.
2 This book is a short read. It is 162 pages long but the text is large type and paragraphs are well spread out. The content could have been printed in a book half the size.
3. The points are well made but they are repeated. There is a summary at the end of each chapter which basically reviews the content of the chapter, often in the same words. The summaries can be used later to cover the content of the book without rereading it.
4. The Coach teaching the struggling project manager how to fix his project challenges is called a Mystic which may turn some people off. Most North American managers would not send their employee else where for coaching. They would do the coaching themselves.
If you read the book, feel free to provide your feedback in the comments section below.