"This handbook was born in the spring of 2011. That's when Gower's publisher Jonathan Norman and both of us met at chez Lock to discuss Jonathan's proposal that we might work together to complete a work devoted entirely to the important subject of managing people in projects."
So say authors Dennis Lock and Lindsay Scott in the opening paragraph of a short Preface to this momentous book. And considerable it is with a footprint of 7"x10"x2.5" (thick) and weighing in at about 4.5lbs (2kg)!
The authors go on to say: "Now we have to say a word about our contributors of which there are over 50. They have been drawn from several parts of the world and different sectors, and were invited to take part because of their particular reputation and skills." And end with: "In general, we have not attempted to cramp the style of any contributor, and readers will notice that one or two of the views expressed are a little controversial, or should we say refreshing?"
At first glance, noticing the "controversial" could be a serious challenge. That's because the authors give no indication where such controversial views might be found in this book of 63 chapters in over 800 pages and few readers, we suspect, will have the fortitude to do so. But wait! Every now and then one encounters a grey block titled "Editorial Comment (DL)" that contains a clarification or even a contrary view. We suspect that these are the necessary clues.
As readers will observe from the long list of chapters shown in the next section, the book provides broad coverage of the subject of "People in Project Management". This coverage ranges from topics like the people associated with a project at all levels, to recruiting and terminating, to teams and spirituality. Clearly the target audience is just about anyone and everyone. However, we had some difficulty in establishing in our minds what the authors had as their objective in assembling the book. That is, other than gathering together a whole lot of relevant, or semi-relevant, stuff into a book on project management. Is this publication intended primarily as a book of reference, or as an organized technical storybook?
But here we should hasten to declare our prejudices. We are not enamored of books by multiple authors. Too many that we have read in the past have been little more than efforts to assemble disparate contributions into a publication simply designed to enhance the reputation of the name of the person on the title page. And this is at the expense of the contributors who typically lose their rights to the copyright of their own work to the publishers of the book. What benefit is it to them especially when their chapter is lost amongst so many others? As for the reader, the lack of a consistent philosophy and flow throughout a book tends to lose a reader's interest.
And so we plow forward searching for the highlights of this one.
1. Lock, Dennis and Lindsay Scott, Handbook of People in Project Management, Gower Publishing Limited, Surrey, UK, © 2013, p xxxix.
2. Actually, we counted 49 but we will not quibble. And, in case you are wondering, this writer is not one of the contributors to the contents of this book!