Through our common interests in various aspects of project management, we have known Peter Morris for a good many years. During that time, we have come to respect his deep practical thinking, and his fearless approach to presenting the subtle and not-so subtle changes to the thinking-of-the-day that in retrospect obviously needed fixing. And indeed there are a lot of things that are misleading in our present day terminology and standards, that continue to stand in the way of thoughtful progress and therefore still need fixing.
But this book is not just about that sort of detail. Rather, it is about painting a picture of the grand design that represents what project management presently is today, how we got here, what it should be and thence what it should become in the future. With these thoughts in mind, we cracked the pages of Peter's latest book: Reconstructing Project Management, and started reading.
Believe it or not, we found ourselves so enthralled by what Peter had to say that we could hardly wait to see what he had to say in the next section much like reading a who-dunnit. And so it was, right up to the last Part 3 of the book in which Peter describes how, in his view, project management should be reconstructed for the future. But make no mistake, this is an "academic" book thoroughly researched and covering all aspects of project management.
As an indication, there are over 600 References and End Notes linking to other scholastic texts and quotations that are used to make his points clear. Such a number must have taken Peter hours and hours of research time to find and set down these findings in a logically developing order throughout the book. Or rather, one suspects that many references have been noted and tucked away over a long period of gestation, ready for inclusion in the total coverage of project management that the reader will find in this incomparable dissertation on the subject.
From these remarks, you may be thinking academic books are for academics. True, but this book is well written in plain, unambiguous English. It is for all serious project management practitioners working on any significant project in any area of project management application. We'll have more to say in a later section of this review, but in the meantime you may well be asking why did we find this book so enthralling?
Well, because Peter writes with a subtle touch of typical English humor, often as a closing remark at the end of a section. Not everyone will be sensitive to this type of humor, of course, but Peter also writes with no holds barred. He takes accurate aim at our established associations on both sides of the Atlantic, to say nothing of criticizing the pontifications of his friends and colleagues in practice and academia when he fundamentally disagrees. You might think that this is being a bit opinionated and you would be right. The only problem is that when you work through his supporting arguments, he is usually and obviously correct!
About the author
Peter Morris is Professor of Construction and Project Management at University College London (UCL). He is author or coauthor of the following books:
- The Anatomy of Projects with George Hough, John Wiley & Sons, 1987
- The Management of Projects Thomas Telford, 1994
- Translating Corporate Strategy into Project Strategy with Ashley Jamieson, PMI, 2004
He is also co-editor of:
- The Wiley Guide to Managing Projects with Jeffrey Pinto, Wiley, 2005
- The Oxford Handbook of Project Management with Jeffrey Pinto and Jonas Soderland, OUP, 2011
Peter was Chairman of the Association for Project Management (APM) from 1993 to 1996, and Deputy Chairman of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) from 1995 to 1997. He also received the Project Management Institute's Research Achievement Award in 2005, IPMA's Research Award in 2009, and APM's Sir Monty Finniston Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Peter is also author of over 130 papers with a particular interest in managing the so-called "front end" of projects as a key to their eventual success.
1. In Peter Morris's mind, the so-called "front end" of a project is all the work in the often multiple phases in the project's life span that precedes the work of actual implementation, i.e. detailed design and construction of the intended facility, program or service.