Recommended Reading for Aspiring Project Managers

Expertise in manufacturing and production line performance requires so much more than engineering skills. To be truly effective, project engineers/managers have to understand people and business.

I’ve just read a review of a new book ‘Great at Work’ by the Norwegian academic Morten Hansen, out now.

Workplace superstars, Professor Hansen concludes, think carefully before they commit to a task, and once committed, move heaven and earth to make it work.

An example from ‘Great at Work’ is relevant. It describes Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott’s race to reach the South Pole in 1911. Scott had more kit, crew and options at his disposal whereas Amundsen succeeded by placing his faith in dogs and sledges and planning meticulously.

It’s not about being the smartest person, or the person who puts in the longest hours, says Hansen. To succeed, what’s needed are fewer tasks and a greater concentration of effort.

What sets Professor Hansen’s book apart and why you can trust its conclusions, is the research. 5,000 people over 5 years were tracked. Results show that those who consider all options at the outset, decide the path, pursue it with determination and don’t allow themselves to get knocked off course, score 25 percentage points higher than those who do not.

This conclusion fits brilliantly with the jph company ethos of ‘Simplicity, Clarity and Focus’. We choose the shortest, most effective route to meet a project objective and use the skills of planning, anticipation and determination to achieve the goal.

I was pleased that Professor Hansen concluded that passion is not a decisive factor in business success. I believe remaining calm and focussed under pressure is the defining trait of the most successful engineers and project managers.

Now, from a new book, to some unbeatable classics. Here are the three business books I recommend to everyone:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936)
  • Understanding Organisations by Charles Handy (1976)
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey (1988)

They are full of wisdom and all still in print. Technology might change, human behaviour does not. If you need further proof, consider that The Art of War, from the 5th Century BC, is in print and quite possibly sitting on the bedside tables of the leaders of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google.

2018-02-07 Margaret Hildreth