What Makes This Book Different?

eXtreme project management is fundamentally different from mainstream and traditional project management approaches.

eXtreme Project Management Test

To show the radical difference between eXtreme project management and traditional project management, let's explore the answers to this question: How do you determine the progress of a project?

The traditional project management answers to this question include:

  • Is the project meeting agreed deadlines?

  • Is the project in budget?

  • Have there been changes to the scope and objectives?

Indeed, most project management systems are based on reports only on budget and deadline compliance.

eXtreme project management adopts a completely different approach to measuring project success and progress:

  • Are stakeholders being informed and consulted about project status?

  • Have there been unapproved changes to scope and objectives?

  • Are the cost and benefits assumptions still valid?

  • Has the agreed product quality been compromised?

  • Are project risks unchanged?

  • Is the sponsor completely aware of the project status?

  • Are the team members satisfied with the project?

In effect, traditional project management looks inward and downward whereas, eXtreme project management looks outward and upward.

Over the past 25 years , we have studied and researched project management and related topics from as many perspectives as possible. We have read every book (currently more than 100) and article (many hundreds) on project management we can find. We have searched the Internet and have attended meetings of professional project management groups such as the Project Management Institute and the Australian Institute of Project Management. In addition, we have discussed our views and models with more than 20,000 project managers in our workshop series.

The longer we look, the more we are convinced that most published project management material has missed the mark. Either the models are too basic and simplistic or too theoretical and complex. In many cases, they are just unrealistic . For example, many project management texts suggest that you have to acquire and implement complex system or project development methodologies (at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars). Critical management issues such as quality, benefits realization, and risk were either completely ignored or plugged in as afterthoughts.

Sometimes we wonder whether the author or expert even lives on the same planet that we do! Their world seems so organized, so rational, so structured, and so devoid of the complex interpersonal politics we see every day in our clients that we wonder whether we have a distorted view of reality.

However, 20,000 people cannot be wrong. Our workshop participants do live on the same planet as we do and in the same world of complex organization dynamics.

Traditional project management approaches reflect the engineering and construction models of project management. They are based on a set of assumptions that are increasingly irrelevant in the chaotic and ambiguous world of organizations facing the new millennium . Concepts such as fixed requirements, long development time frames , stable teams and technology, and passive involvement of project stakeholders who trust their expert project managers have become historical myths.

Our new project management approach has been continuously refined and expanded to reflect the realities of the new business paradigm. It is based on a different set of assumptions that include dynamic requirements, compressed development schedules, virtual teams, unstable technology, and total involvement of project stakeholders. Our project management approach is totally focused on the analysis, measurement, and realization of financial benefits from the project, managing the total whole-of-life project cycle, complete integration of quality issues, and proactive project risk management.

We have evolved our project management approach to be as simple as it can be and as complex as it needs to be.

In his terrific book, Management of the Absurd , Richard Frason (1996) described how James Watt saw something that millions of other people had also seen but "not seen." It was Watt's observation of how steam coming from his tea kettle could be used to power steam engines that sparked the Industrial Revolution. Watt also saw the "invisible obvious" that so many others could not.

So much of this book is about the invisible obvious. Time and time again throughout this book, you'll find yourself saying "Of course! Why didn't I think of that? It's so obvious. It is so simple."

However, as Richard Riodan said when he was mayor of Los Angeles, "Simple and easy aren't the same words." [1]

[1] We caught Riodan making this wonderful distinction between the simple statement "We should eliminate all gangs" with the not-so-easy task of implementing it on a TV news broadcast in 1992.

Most important, as we first stated in 1981 in People and Project Management (1981) and in Third Wave Project Management (Thomsett, 1992), our project management approach is totally focused on people and the relationships among the many people involved in projects.


People, not resources or users, work on projects.

Radical Project Management
Radical Project Management
ISBN: 0130094862
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 136
Authors: Rob Thomsett

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