Making Things Happen
Mastering Project Management
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: March 2008
Pages: 410

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.
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oreillyMaking Things Happen
 
4.4

(based on 5 reviews)

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4.0

Both academic and experiential knowledge

By Doug Domeny

from Manchester, NH

About Me Developer

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Helpful examples
  • Practical
  • Well-written

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Expert
    • Intermediate
    • Novice

    Comments about oreilly Making Things Happen:

    Each chapter has a summary--great to review and reinforce the material--and thought provoking questions and scenarios. Displays both an academic and experiential knowledge of software project management. Practical advice on communicating with people and improving office politics.

    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Project management at its best!

    By gregorywest

    from sarnia, ontario, canada

    About Me Computer Group or other, Designer, Developer, Educator

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Easy to understand
    • Helpful examples
    • Well-written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Expert
      • Intermediate

      Comments about oreilly Making Things Happen:

      "How", is author Scott Berkun's favorite word and it shows throughout this book. Whenever he sees something new the first word comes out: "how". Berkun's roles, while working at Microsoft, included: Internet Explorer 1.0 to 5.0, Windows, MSN as well as a lead program manager. So, it is no wonder Scott Berkun makes this book happen.

      "Making Things Happen" is sectioned into three parts: Plans, Skills, and Management. It is an easy read and it seems like Berkun is speaking directly to you, while in the office or on site. This book is designed for "experienced team leaders", "new team leaders and managers" and "individual programmers, testers or other contributors". It demonstrates various proven management principles to any group looking for productivity, leadership, and how to make it all work. Berkun is correct when he says this book "combines business theory, psychology, management tactics, design processes, and software engineering", giving advice in every chapter.

      Each chapter ends with a summation of key points for review. There are "Exercises" along with summations that can be easily applied within your group setting or on your own. These exercises are designed to create situations stimulated from the information in the chapter, giving you a sense of real time action. This is a great way for team players to act out or plan for the next project, using the techniques from each chapter.

      This book is about about managing groups and projects. I am involved with several different types of groups, some having nothing to do with technology, and the methods found within this book can easily be adapted to any one of my various groups.

      This book is written for people who like to "skim" ahead, browse and/or dig in for a specific task or problem to plan and commit. If you have a specific management task to work out in a group setting, or if you want success using project management techniques, this book is a must.

      (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Begs to be read cover to cover

      By Terry McKenna

      from Undisclosed

      Comments about oreilly Making Things Happen:

      This is a book to accompany every project management student's, or practitioner's reference book. The author taps into his years of experience working at Microsoft to write about problems that are easy to relate to, and in a manner that makes enjoyable reading. The book is never dull nor is reference-like. After reading the first chapter it is even possible to read another selectively to satisfy ones particular curiosity making the book a useful time filler. However, the book is that interesting it begs to be read cover to cover.

      Project management jargon is used lightly in a way that those new to PM will not feel intimidated. The book does not rehash known 'best practices', instead the author shares with the reader many of his successes, and failures, inspiring the reader to think and apply original solutions. 'Making Things Happen' both informs and inspires with the author's valuable rapport in all the chapters and is highly recommended.

      (3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      More than a T-Shirt.

      By Steven D. Sewell

      from Undisclosed

      Comments about oreilly Making Things Happen:

      "Been there, done that, and here's the proof". Not merely anecdotal information, this book leaves you wishing that Scott Berkun worked down the hall from you. Straight to the point, he defines what works, what doesn't, and why. He lays out the real world examples that create the framework to support his teaching. For a book on project management, this is an easy read. Better yet, the information is easily applied to your current project.

      (8 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Updated version of a key resource

      By Leam Hall

      from Undisclosed

      Comments about oreilly Making Things Happen:

      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.

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