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Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management (Theory in Practice (O'Reilly)) [Paperback]

Scott Berkun
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 April 2008 Theory in Practice (O'Reilly)

In the updated edition of this critically acclaimed and bestselling book, Microsoft project veteran Scott Berkun offers a collection of essays on field-tested philosophies and strategies for defining, leading, and managing projects. Each essay distills complex concepts and challenges into practical nuggets of useful advice, and the new edition now adds more value for leaders and managers of projects everywhere.

Based on his nine years of experience as a program manager for Internet Explorer, and lead program manager for Windows and MSN, Berkun explains to technical and non-technical readers alike what it takes to get through a large software or web development project. Making Things Happen doesn't cite specific methods, but focuses on philosophy and strategy. Unlike other project management books, Berkun offers personal essays in a comfortable style and easy tone that emulate the relationship of a wise project manager who gives good, entertaining and passionate advice to those who ask.

Topics in this new edition include:

  • How to make things happen
  • Making good decisions
  • Specifications and requirements
  • Ideas and what to do with them
  • How not to annoy people
  • Leadership and trust
  • The truth about making dates
  • What to do when things go wrong
Complete with a new forward from the author and a discussion guide for forming reading groups/teams, Making Things Happen offers in-depth exercises to help you apply lessons from the book to your job. It is inspiring, funny, honest, and compelling, and definitely the one book that you and your team need to have within arm's reach throughout the life of your project.

Coming from the rare perspective of someone who fought difficult battles on Microsoft's biggest projects and taught project design and management for MSTE, Microsoft's internal best practices group, this is valuable advice indeed. It will serve you well with your current work, and on future projects to come.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 410 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (4 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596517718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596517717
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 17.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Scott Berkun (@berkun) is the best selling author of four books, Making Things Happen, The Myths of Innovation, Confessions of a Public Speaker and Mindfire Big Ideas for Curious Minds. His work has appeared in the The Washington Post, The New York Times, Wired Magazine, Fast Company, The Economist, Forbes Magazine, and other media. He has taught creative thinking at the University of Washington and has been a regular commentator on CNBC, MSNBC and National Public Radio. His many popular essays and entertaining lectures can be found for free on his blog at

Product Description

About the Author

Scott Berkun worked on the Internet Explorer team at Microsoft from 1994-1999 and left the company in 2003 with the goal of writing enough books to fill a shelf. The Myths of Innovation is his second book: he wrote the best seller, The Art of Project Management (O'Reilly 2005). He makes a living writing, teaching and speaking. He teaches a graduate course in creative thinking at the University of Washington, runs the sacred places architecture tour at NYC's GEL conference, and writes about innovation, design and management at

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reasons why this book stands out in the crowd 16 Jun 2009
I've had a decent dive into project management theory as far as software is concerned. In all honesty, I found "Making Things Happen" to be one of the most useful books I have ever read.

These are the 5 reasons why it stands out in the crowd:

1. It's sensible
As opposed to hard-core computer science, project management inevitably confronts you with the fact that reality (unlike an if statement) is unstructured, human and has more to do with circumstances than we'd like to think. Most management books and classes that I've been to generally focus on providing you with fixed recipes - which are in fact no more than algorithms that happen to have worked a couple of times. I have always had a hard time linking those with the actual situations that I found myself in. While reading this book, I had the feeling of "these are the principles, these are the mechanisms that drive them - now go adapt this to whatever you have in your back yard." And that's what really makes it useful after you put it down and go to work.

2. It teaches you to judge for yourself
Along the same lines of "all around down to earth stuff" I like the fact that the book considers alternatives when tackling some of the major topics - such as how to do your planning. Sure, the advice is to the point and decisive, but at no time does it leave the impression that the author holds the absolute truth or even that there is an absolute truth. It leaves room for "customization" depending on the situation that the reader finds himself in, the size of the project, the level of the team etc. And that's a really strong point.

3. It's very well documented
A distinctive thing about this book is the you can clearly see the crazy amounts of research and documentation that went into it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By P. Wood
This is a brilliant Project Management guide.I do Project Management for a living. I am always interested in learning from others so I can do a better job.
This book is very practical - it has so much sound practical advice - and it is readable!
Recommend for anyone involved in management as well as projects.
Here is just one of hundreds of points chosen at random: (about a Project Manager) "his value is determined by how well he can apply his brilliance to the project through other people" and Scott goes on to discuss and suggest how. Another suggestion for a PM to ask " "What can I do to help you do your best work?" "
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Great Book, for insight and reference.A PM bible that gives real insight into the other side of all the process & procedure driven aspects of PM, the relationships with people and the dynamics within the project team.

I strongly reccomend this book to all aspiring PM's, as planning, co ordinating, recording, monitoring and controlling is only half the story. Dynamic Leadership & Management style will make all the difference in sucessful outcomes.
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