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Scrappy Project Management: The 12 Predictable and Avoidable Pitfalls that Every Project Faces [Paperback]

Kimberly Wiefling
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Sep 2007
Projects are MESSY! From the minute the project begins, all manner of changes, surprises and disasters befall them. Unfortunately most of these are PREDICTABLE and AVOIDABLE.

Tact and diplomacy can only get you so far in the wild and wacky world of project work. A combination of outrageous creativity, sheer bravado and nerves of steel will serve you far better than any fancy-schmancy Microsoft Project Gantt chart!

'Scrappy Project Management' is about what REALLY happens in the project environment, how to survive it, and how to make sure that your team avoids the predictable and avoidable pitfalls that every project faces.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Happy About (2 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600050514
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600050510
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 630,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Kimberly Wiefling, Founder and President of Wiefling Consulting, and Executive Editor of the Scrappy About Series, is a proven expert in enabling people to achieve what seems impossible, but is merely difficult. She is the author of one of the top project management books in the US, "Scrappy Project Management - The 12 Predictable and Avoidable Pitfalls Every Project Faces", a book growing in popularity around the world, and published in Japanese by Nikkei Business Press. She is the passion at the core of Wiefling Consulting, LLC, a global leadership and business management consulting firm that is a collaboration among excellent professionals from diverse fields. She currently spends about half of her time working with high-potential leaders in Japanese companies, facilitating leadership, innovation and execution excellence workshops to enable Japanese companies to solve global problems profitably. She is the Executive Program Director for ALC Education, Inc's Global Management Consulting Business.

A physicist by education, and a successful business leadership and project management consultant for the past 10 years, she began her professional career working for a decade at HP in product development project management and engineering leadership. She spent 5 years in the wild and wacky world of Silicon Valley startups, including a Xerox Parc spinoff where she was the VP of Program Management. In 2001 she rose from the ashes of the dot-com bust, launched her consulting practice, and never looked back.

In typical Silicon Valley style, Kimberly has helped to start, run and grow a dozen small businesses. Several of the startups that she co-founded are still in business and profitable. One of the keys to their success was a focus on not only a winning strategy, but a winning culture. Culture transformation lies at the heart of all of her work.

Kimberly's clients include companies like Cisco Systems, Symantec, Intuit, HP, Agilent Technologies, Mazda, Daiichi Sankyo, Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, Kao, Toshiba, Furukawa Electric, Entelos, Dow Corning Toray, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the University of California, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Siemens, Hitachi, Alcoa, Xerox PARC, NECsoft, NTT DoCoMo, and many more.

Over 5000 people have viewed the hysterical video documenting the final phase of completing her book. She's obsessed with collaboration, and you can reach her via email at

Kimberly is contributing to making the world a better place in a number of ways. She's the co-founder of the Open Kilowatt Institute (OKI) and the co-chair of the SDForum Engineering Leadership Special Interest Group (EL SIG). She's supporting micro-finance for entrepreneurs throughout the world via Kiva, and she supports the economic independence of women in various ways around the world because she believes that this is the most effective way raise the quality of life for all people. Her new book, Scrappy Women in Business, will be available July 2010, and can be previewed at

Product Description

From the Back Cover

"Put this spine on your bookshelf, or in your survival kit. This is THE resource for the power starved PMs who need to learn how to street fight for resources, deal with customer insanity, and dodge the falling rocks as you stay on top of everything. A fighting spirit and a confident strategy is the RETURN ON THIS INVESTMENT."
Michele Jackman, Michele Jackman Enterprises and Adventures, co-author of Star Teams, Players.

"If you want to build energy, velocity, and momentum toward an outrageous goal, Kimberly's Scrappy Project Management is just what you've been waiting for to help you get those results with more pleasant surprises and fewer disappointing shocks along the way."
Christine Comaford-Lynch, CEO of Mighty Ventures, author of Rules for Renegades

"This book unabashedly puts forward a new, unambiguous, non-shrinking, and ultimately empowering view of what we all as project managers should commit to be and do every day in our project roles."
Cinda Voegtli, CEO of Emprend, Inc. and President of

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Scrappy Guides are books with ATTITUDE! They are your edge in accomplishing what seems impossible, but is actually just real hard. These are real books for real people living in the real world. They are your secret weapon in creating courage and commitment to your goals even when there is no evidence that you will succeed. They are your shield against the inevitable critics who will try to undermine you, and your comfort in the inevitable failures that accompany any worthy pursuit.

Scrappy means not relying on a title to be a leader, being willing to take chances, take risks, put yourself out there in order to do the right thing. Scrappy means having the steely resolve of a street-fighter when necessary, being willing to be scared while sticking to your guns, being committed beyond confidence and ability, committed to making a difference. Scrappy means focusing on creating something extraordinary more than worrying about social acceptance and the approval of others. Scrappy is EDGY!

Scrappy Project Managers know that the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a sanitized version of the world of projects. The Scrappy Project Manager wants to succeed. They want their team to be successful. They know their team DESERVES to win, and they know that the PMBOK is just the beginning of what it takes to deliver success in the higgly-piggly world where real projects live. Scrappy Project Managers don't let reality limit them. They either find a way or they make one! This book contains guidelines on how to get stuff done when the odds are against you, historical evidence says it can't be done, and the majority doesn't think it is possible. It's for people who aren't bound by convention, assumptions or self-limiting beliefs. It's for people who can be counted upon to get the job done. Are you ready to get scrappy?

Welcome to our Scrappy World!

Fearless Project Management: Welcome to Hell

Project management is one of the most demanding jobs I have ever experienced. Typically no one reports to the project manager. The project manager rarely has access to budget or staff of their own. And yet they are almost completely responsible for the success of a project. If a project is a failure, the project manager is usually blamed. If it is a success, my experience is that the project manager may not be able to benefit from the very success that she helped create. Project managers make clear what needs to be done, who is supposed to do it, and hold people accountable for following through on their commitments. They may have to tell executives things that they prefer not to hear, and even confront them with extremely negative news. This takes courage and conviction, and it is not necessarily appreciated for the valuable contribution that it is. Like a Mafia hit man, the same person that is so handy when you need someone killed may be an unwelcome guest at dinner. If you are going to be a great project manager you'd better keep your backbone in tact and be prepared to be respected, but not necessarily liked. And keep your resume up to date! You won't be effective as a leader if you can't put your job on the line to do the right thing. Leadership is not for the faint of heart. There are many people passing themselves off as leaders, but there are merely occupying the seat, not taking the stand. If you want to be the kind of leader that inspires commitment from your team, hope from your stakeholders and the admiration of your colleagues, these common sense guidelines for project management excellence will serve you well.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This book puts forward a new, powerful and unambiguous view of the key skills required for successful global project leaders.

For the last 30 years I have read leading US and UK publications on leadership, project management and global joint ventures. "Scrappy Project Management" is a refreshing change from the standard business text books currently available.

Its value is in the stories and engaging language used to present a practical and empowering approach to managing people and projects. For leaders responsible for major corporate global projects to those entrepreneurs starting their own business this highly enjoyable book is a valuable resource.

Buy it now!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scrappy meets Lazy 3 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For me books, all books including business books, have to be entertaining. If they are entertaining then they are readable and if they are readable then guess what? They get read - from cover to cover - more than once. They don't get flicked through, maybe a chapter or two read, and then stuck up on the bookshelf for the rest of time.

Scrappy Project Management ticks all those boxes.

Kimberly says it like it is and, based on my own 26 years in project management, it is like she says it is!

With some crazy stories, great scrappy tips, and a fast pace I recommend the book to all project managers.

Peter (The Lazy Project Manager) Taylor The lazy project manager: How to be twice as productive and still leave the office early
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A brilliant, witty book full of extremely useful anecdotes and actionable (quotable) advice. If you only read one book about leading projects to a successful conclusion, make it Kimberly Wiefling's excellent "Scrappy Project Management"!

A project in your pocket: 9 steps for set-up success
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 18 Jun 2011
By mdoher
Format:Kindle Edition
No mind blowingly new ideas in this book...but what is there is a good read, fairly well laid out and a good addition to a project manager's bookshelf.

I would recommend this as a book to glance through and as with any project management book...pick and choose from it - if needed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  58 reviews
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable insights, effectively delivered! 8 Dec 2007
By Berkeley Tom - Published on
Unlike other project management books which I left largely unread on my bookshelf, I enjoyed going through this book from cover to cover. It provided very practical advice that are compact and to the point: focus on the customer, plan, communicate widely and often, prioritize, celebrate success, ...

What's great about this book is the style in which it's delivered. The real world stories, annecdotes, famous quotes and the author's unique sense of humor to illustrate the points and make them more memorable. E.g., on the need for clear goals: "When I was young, I always wanted to BE somebody when I grew up. I just wish I'd been more specific." (Lily Tomlin); on the need to prioritize: "What to do if you must choose between your heart, your lungs, and your kidneys?"; on the gap between knowledge and action: "Common Sense is NOT common practice"; and on keeping a positive attitude: "Success consists of going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." (Winston Churchill).

The book also provides a set of checklists, sample diagrams and templates to be used in managing the project and communicating with the team and executives. I find the use of ranges for time estimates particularly useful, since it reflects the uncertain nature of project estimates a bit more accurately than a single number.

While this book isn't the most comprehensive project management book, it does cover the major points to help achieve success. If you're a team lead, project or functional manager, this book will arm you with valuable insights and motivate you to avoid common and deadly project pitfalls. I only wished I had followed many of the advice in the book. It's too late for me, but you can still save yourself by reading and following it :-).
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Handbook for Fearless Leadership 13 Oct 2007
By A. Burdette - Published on
Kimberly Wiefling's Scrappy Project Management isn't just a text with a list of must-dos for project methodology; it's a blueprint for high-end corporate capital-L Leadership. I don't know if it's her knowledge of the scientific method (Wiefling is a trained physicist), her unflinching honesty, or her sense of humor, but she combines relevant and powerful insights about fearless project leadership that even a seasoned--or world weary--project manager needs.

Unlike most project management books, Scrappy Project Management is immensely readable. It's funny and edgy; more than one analogy made me literally laugh aloud. It's concise and easy to read, but not fluffy. More importantly, though, Wiefling's methods are supported by numerous concrete examples, not just vague buzzwords or motivational clichés like we've all heard before. There's solid irrefutable documentation of her assertions about marketing, product development, science, engineering, and organizational psychology.

You certainly don't need an MBA to understand or glean important concepts from Scrappy Project Management, but it's easy to see how formal business training would be acutely enhanced by certain chapters, specifically the ones on risk management, shareholder expectations, and project changes.

Wiefling's unabashed honesty doesn't sugarcoat perhaps the most important fact that I've never seen in any other book: "the role of a project leader cannot be successfully filled by anyone who can't put his or her job on the line in pursuit of doing the right thing." Notice that she doesn't say "in pursuit of getting the product shipped". Wiefling is focusing on the quality and effectiveness of project work, a complete and unrepentant "obsession" with the customer, and creating a motivational framework for both the organization and the consumer--practices that are both essential and profitable. This type of determined focus can apply to any type of organization or product, and in the age of mass global competition, is absolutely necessary for survival.

From a subjective, occasionally more social-science perspective, Scrappy Project Management addresses self-imposed limitations, assumptions, and employee appreciation. Wiefling's chapter "Lessons Not Learned" where she says "Learn from experience...make new and more exciting mistakes each time" turns what appears to be a tongue-in-cheek suggestion into an unflinching and blunt observation about project calamity: "Whatever the cause, allowing your team to fail for entirely predictable reasons is inexcusable."

Happily surprising and informative was the chapter on communication. On the second page, I immediately identified a problem I've had as a PM with organizations ranging from small non-profits to the world's largest software company--sending a critical project document as an email attachment (or putting it on a network share) to solicit feedback and receiving none. Wiefling accurately pinpoints our over-reliance on certain forms of electronic communication and offers up several creative and (empirically proven) successful alternatives for attention-grabbing communication, even with co-located teams. Specific examples for clever communication emphasize principles of viral marketing from the restroom to your computer's screensaver. It's bold, it's innovative, it's guerrilla--and people pay attention.

If I were to change anything about Wiefling's work, I'd ask for more information about ensuring project success as an individual contributor; the book appears aimed at senior managers and decision makers. Though the principles of customer devotion and "doing the right thing" can be adapted for all team members, a lower-level employee or team member may feel hesitant about incorporating such bold actions into their work life. (I'd love to see this sort of Scrappy Guide aimed at fresh college grads.) Another interesting addition would be the inclusion of certain types of team dysfunctions that are especially hard to overcome like ageism, sexism, and broken management structures. Most of all, I wish the book had an index--the chapters have so much information that it would be nice to be able to look for a specific topic or cross-reference topics from multiple chapters.

It's apparent Wiefling is passionate about her work and she makes it abundantly clear that project management is not for the faint of heart or the apathetic team leader. She's unapologetic about expectations, leadership, and making tough decisions about priorities. She's inspiring and realistic; it'll be hard, but it's worth the price.

This is a book for professionals who want to achieve greatness and demonstrate fearless leadership: for their companies, for their customers, for their teams, and for themselves.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful real-world reference you'll laugh your way through 15 Nov 2007
By KK - Published on
I had the pleasure of working with Kimberly for about a year and a half. She was my project management mentor, and I miss her guidance and inspiration dearly. This book is the next best thing - a dose of Kimberly in my pocket. I pull it out when I need a shot of reality fed to me with a healthy helping of humor, and it gets me back in the game.

My copy of this book is underlined and highlighted, the corners are folded down, and I have post it notes sticking out every which way. For a short book, it sure has a lot packed into it, and surprise, surprise - it's information I can actually use! I suppose that's why it's sitting on my desk next to my computer, and not sleeping on my shelf. Thanks Kimberly!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Experienced Project Managers know what is in this book! 13 April 2009
By J. Brown - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Scrappy Project Management - The 12 Predictable Pitfalls Every Project Faces is worthy of being on every project managers bookshelf. It always pays dividends to get the perspective of other seasoned project managers because there is more than one right way to do project management. The author's perspective is refreshing and insightful.

The biggest compliment I have about this book is that it is not an academic book. It is a book intended for practitioners of the project management craft written by a practitioner. I like books that provide the kind of advice a mentor would give you over a cup of coffee and Scrappy Project Management fits that mode.

My top ten take-aways from Scrappy Project Management

1. The very people who are supposed to be leading often abdicate responsibility in mediocre organizations.

2. Make your own team organization chart.

3. There are many people passing themselves off as project leaders when they are just occupying the position and not willing to take a stand and do the right thing.

4. Learn to love the tunnel. There is no such thing as a light at the end of the tunnel.

5. When tracking changes in action item due dates never change the original dates. Just mark through them.

5.5 Track changes to the project.

6. Humans are bad estimators and bottom up scheduling methods pay to little attention to handoffs and integration points.

7. Pre-emptive pessimism. People tend to assume something is impossible if it is very difficult.

8. Never reward firefighters.

9. Happiness is relative. You must do a good job of setting expectations.

10. It doesn't matter how much your team knows if it doesn't have the ability to execute.

These are not the only take-aways and this book provides tried and true principles of project management that are presented in a pragmatic way with a tongue in cheek style to keep you interested.

Buy this book. It is a keeper.

Dr. James T. Brown, PMP PE CSP
Author - The Handbook of Program Management
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Happy with Scrappy (Project Management) 7 July 2010
By Himanshu Jhamb - Published on
A little about myself before I write this review so that readers know I am not a bot or a robot! I have been doing Project Management for about 6-7 years now; mostly in the professional services space. I've managed small to medium sized projects ($250K - $2m), some successfully, some not. The successful projects were quite rewarding though the failures were very rewarding in their own right, as well. Now before I turn this review into a review about myself... let's dive into Kimberly's book ... or as Kimberly would've put it, lets get Scrappy...

I have seen & read many books on project management and somehow they all seemed to be really bulky. By the time I'd hit the 4th chapter, I'd forget what I read in the 1st... which, incidentally, would probably be a 100 pages ago! Not with this book. There is enough ammo packed in this 115 pages or so of this book to keep your PM artillery going... and no, you would not need coffee while reading this book - the contents are enough to keep you awake and engaged throughout the book. The illustrations are priceless - they keep things very interesting... some of them are amazingly practical. So practical, that you can pick them up right out of the book and apply to your projects... EFFECTIVELY. Needless to say, these are time tested by Kimberly herself and quite a generous contribution to the Project Management world.

Oh! And not to forget the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Some of them are inspiring-ly funny. Totally love love (am I repeating myself?) the one in the Planning chapter.

... and then there is Kimberly's style of writing. It's simply explosive. There is no lack of drama in this book! While you go on reading from chapter to chapter, all the fortunate and not-so-fortunate memories of your projects march past you - thanks to Kimberly's conversational style of writing.

Last but not the least, there are writers that write and then there are doers who write. I always go for books from doers than the writers as the doers really know how to do it... how? Well, simply because they've done it... again... and again. Kimberly, clearly, is a doer!

Get Scrappy (Project Management)and ... get Happy... with Scrappy!
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