Book Review - Race Through the Forest - by Timothy Johnson

Posted by Kevin Brady on Sun 13th August 2006 at 01:37 PM, Filed in Book Reviews

One of my favourite Project Management Blogs is Carpe Factum run by Timothy Johnson. Carpe Factum. Timothy’s blog discuss’s all kinds of topics but essentially he focuses on the dry subject of Project Management (my passion). Timothy has a good blog writing style and manages to make often quite serious points in an interesting and humorous way. Bearing in mind the subject of his Blog this is a real challenge!

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Available on Amazon - Race Through the Forest A Project Management Fable - By Timothy Johnson

In between client meetings today, I managed to read the whole book in Mc’ee Dees (Mac Donald’s) during an extended lunch. So if you’re a busy professional and rarely have time to read books this is one for you.

The fable, without giving too much away, is about a company with a history of failed projects and a distrust of existing project management and their associated methods. The board directors of this company needed a specific IT system delivered to their business which would ensure the future survival of the company for the next 5 to 10 years. This system had to be custom made and despite a history of project failure, the board directors decided to build this system internally. However, for special reasons (detailed in the book) they decided to set-up two competing project teams with separate project managers to build independently the same IT system. This seemed very reminiscent of Steve Jobs (Apple Computing) who in the early days ran Apple development projects using concurrent and competing project teams.

The Project Managers had diametric approaches to Project Management i.e. what I often refer to as SOP (Seat of the Pants management) or JFDI (Just F**king Do It management approach) vs/versus the less commonly seen today - Pragmatic and Metrics based project management style involving staff participation and ownership. I won’t spoil the read with details of who won and why they were the winner, but suffice it to say that a very important set of lessons is learnt by the company and the reader!! 

I would highly recommend this book to the following types of readers:-

- Junior or aspiring project managers who have not been on a PRINCE 2 course or had the time to read a PRINCE 2 manual and are wondering what approach will give them the best odds of project success.

- Business People and Project Sponsors who need to know the following:-
- What Project Sponsorship means in terms of roles and responsibilities
- What a Project Manager does and how different it is compared to line management
- Basic understanding of “Fit for Purpose” Project Management Techniques which give the best odds for Project Success.

This book is quick, low-tech and jargon free fable explaining the essence of good Project Management and a must read! 

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