Book review: Results Without Authority

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Project team members can be compared to library books. You can only borrow them if they are an expert in that area. Once someone else requests them, you must return them.
How can you keep a project team moving in such a situation? This book, Results Without Authority: How to Control a Project when the Team Doesn’t Report to you (2nd Edition), describes how. He writes:
You must assume responsibility as the leader of your project. Regardless of how unlikely it may seem, project leaders can take control and keep it.
The book explains how to maintain control over a project by using influence, metrics, and process. The second section of the book focuses on the project management lifecycle. It explains how you can use influence, metrics and process to your advantage throughout the project.
Control through process
He writes that “it doesn’t really matter what specific processes are adopted,” “as long they make good business sense, have meaningful support by your team and stakeholders, as well as being actually used.”
This is the type of advice I find most helpful. There is no need to follow a particular methodology or dictate what should happen. It’s a book that project managers can use to help motivate their team in the real world.
He also mentions the importance of using the project plan to control the process. This is because it depends on the organisational culture and not just your personal influence in the project environment.
Communication is key to control
The book contains several sections that discuss how communication can help you exert influence on the project. You will be the one receiving most of the information and status updates. This means that you can play a crucial role in controlling the flow of information. Kendrick writes that “To a large extent, what you speak and how you say it will affect how you are perceived by your managers and peers as a leader.”
Communication is two-way. You also have the power to ask questions. You can use questions to your advantage, as it is unlikely that you will say no. Use diplomatic communication to ask questions.
Seamus Heaney-like Kendrick, Kendrick is full of great ideas. His last book was written in the same dense style. There are many ideas that fall off the pages, many more than you would need for any given project. Here’s a tip that I learned from the book: Avoid negotiating with your sponsor. She is probably more skilled at it than you. I like the way he writes because I like practical books that help project mangers do things differently and better.
Highly recommended.
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