Projects are People too – eXtreme Project Management

I’ve picked up a habit of having two or three books on the go most of the time. One book, a novel; purely for entertainment to appease the right side of my brain. The other more academic and in line with work that I am doing and to keep the left side going.

Many of the things that I do involve software project management or working closely with project managers by managing the development side. I’ve done all the normal things that project managers do; Joined the PMI, studied the handbook (just haven’t pulled the trigger on writing the exam), certified in Agile, Scrum and so on. I’ve married that with management courses and texts on building and engaging teams.

Recently, as one of my left side activities, I read a book call eXtreme Project Management by Doug DeCarlo. The book, certainly not new (published 10 years ago), introduces the reader to a fundamental shift in managing projects. It really provides the project manager with the “AHA!” (not to be confused with the product AHA! ) or the application of human activities side to the PMI approach. It talks about managing people and the emotions of the project.

My first thought was that the book focuses a lot, up front, on the people side of the projects, maybe too much. I’ve always been told that I have the ability to manage the people side well, along with the analytical and logistics side of projects. So it seemed like something that I was already doing and I thought to myself that I might be doing a lot of reading for nought.

However, as I delved deeper into the book I learned that while I might have been handling the people side of the project well I was not managing or leading the project’s emotional capacity (another good book along similar lines – Conversational Capacity by Craig Weber – it’s a people book).

Projects are successful only on the energy of the people creating the content and the ability for the leader to gain and maintain the commitment around the context of the mission or objective of the project. The majority of the project is what the author calls “soft glue.”

The book certainly helps to hone the reader’s soft glue skills and to open one’s eyes to the emotional intelligence inherent in every project. The easy part of the project is the technical or mechanics. Keeping your eye on the “people skills (negotiating, resolving conflict, emotional intelligence, and getting your point across).” That’s the crux.

I would recommend the book, first and foremost to any project manager but also to any manager. Whether we manage the project directly or manage people working on projects we should all be watching and appreciating the emotional aspect of the project(s).

Keep in mind, always, that projects are people too. A happy project means a happy life.

This article was originally posted to LinkedIn:

About jasonbu 56 Articles
I'm a wannabe extrovert and an Interweb nerd who has spent the past 25+ years in the software industry. My first 10 years at Microsoft. I've served in the Canadian Military; I'm a humanist; I love coffee; love all things science and love spending time with my family.