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Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,446 ratings  ·  70 reviews
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 leade ...more
Paperback, 410 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by O'Reilly Media (first published March 25th 2001)
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 ·  4,446 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is really good. A recruiter from Microsoft recommended it to me, saying if I would like to know something about project management, I don't want to miss this book. I bought it and yes it's true! The author gives plenty of details on how to get people involved and how to deal with difficulties in project management. Pretty useful. However, as a student then I could not remember or experience all he said in the book. I took a class in software management and the professor used this book ...more
Erika RS
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, software, physical
Excellent book. My main complaint, if you can call it that, was that as an overview, it could only give a taste of the topics covered. Fortunately, Berkun sprinkled follow-up references liberally throughout.

This book focuses on the essence of project management: allowing a group of people to work together to accomplish some goal. It's not tied to any particular technique or methodology. Because it's so general, some individual ideas and recommendations come across as common sense. The value com
May 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

This a very long-winded read. The author beats about the bush and pace around hot porridge like a cat. It seems like he wrote this book for software designers (that I'm not), and the chapters towards the end were more relevant to me. He would often advise you to skip a few lengths, and I wonder why he bothered to include it at all. It does contain useful information, but it's also a boring book.
Lois Keller
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I definitely learned many things while reading this. If you're going into a PM position, definitely worth a read.
Kevin O'Brien
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to understand project management on a practical level. The author, Scott Berkun, was a project manager at Microsoft, working on Internet Explorer, and draws on this experience in presenting his ideas on managing projects. One thing I like is that he shows his own growth and how he learned lessons in the course of his work, instead of just handing down pronouncements from on high. And the book is definitely full of experience and practical advice. Wh ...more
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book taught me a new respect for project management. In a lot of ways my job isn't too different from software development. But this book really applies to any job where you (1) deliver something to a client or (2) work as part of a team. Project management is hard, that's why some people make careers out of it. At work we don't really have project managers, in fact they try to keep responsibility as diffuse as possible. Which is fine if you want to avoid drama and internal strife but reall ...more
Spyros Chiotakis
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book that covers many areas of a project, starting from the project idea and planning to the project realization.

Some of the topics covered are:
- Schedules and how to make more accurate predictions
- How to take requirements and generate specifications
- Relationships of a manager with the team
- The importance of processes in a team
- Making team meetings worthwhile and how to write non-annoying emails
- The importance of trust in a team to tackle issues and get good project estimates
- Prioritizat
Pete Aven
Apr 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: developers, software teams, project managers
Great, Quick Read. A lot of useful information here. I've read many books on managing software projects, and they often tend to tell you what goes wrong or can go wrong, which I know already, as I've lived it. This book actually provides many helpful solutions. The book makes an effort to recognize that processes should support the workers, not the other way around, so the topics are not obsessed with schedules and charts and the rigidity you find in most pm books. The author takes into the huma ...more
Franck Chauvel
May 20, 2015 rated it liked it
This book provides very general strategies and tactics to carry out successful software project management, including communication, politics. Yet this book does not include practical techniques, such as how to come up with a work breakdown structure, how to make estimates, etc. Still it raises interesting question about challenging situations, which most of us (I believe) have not been exposed to.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I recommend this book to anyone who works on projects, especially software projects. The author is a former product manager for Microsoft. The book covers many of the aspects of typical projects. It’s not specific to any one methodology, but it does provide an overview of agile and waterfall. If you are not a project manager, you still need to know how projects run, and this book is very accessible and the essay format gives a good overview of things like planning, estimating, project schedules, ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
I had, despite his other books, high hopes on this one about project management. Unfortunately, this book is a wordy collection of very general strategies and tactics, lacking the practical advise it advertises. There are a few original ideas, but right at the moment when you get interested and would like to read more, the chapter ends.

This second edition has “120 thought-provoking exercises”, but don’t get too excited. Those are questions, without answers, and thought-provoking isn’t a word I
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A true classic in PM - even though I coordinated some projects already, I learned a lot by reading this one on strategizing, planning, leadership and employee happiness. It has some great tips and tricks, even if some of it is a bit straightforward. Though the examples come from IT, they apply to a broad range of sectors. This is must read for everyone who wants to get things done and plan better in any business!
Chaitali Narla
Dated and uninspiring

I found the ideas presented in this book to be minimally useful. Reading other books with deeper dives into the ideas was better for me (Getting More, Switch, etc). The process of software development as described in the book was also very dated IMO. I finished the book because I started it but wouldn't recommend to anyone.
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great read for project managers of all levels of experience, focused on the practical. Lots of stories from the authors days managing projects at Microsoft. Easy to read and fairly interesting considering the topic.
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book can be a great help for people starting out on project management. For those that have already been doing it for a while, the book can offer some interesting perspectives but it isn't nearly as useful - most of what it says you probably already know.
Prakhar Chandna
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
One thing I liked about it was the fact that it did not talk about complex theories or models being used in the industry. Rather, it stressed on the underlying principles and concepts.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Good introduction to Project management. Simple and honest, at times very humorous writing.
Bruno Fernandes
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A little too wordy for my personal taste, nevertheless a great book. Good advice that clearly comes from a place of experience.
Manas Saloi
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best project management book out there. Must read for all managers.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great handbook for managers. Must read for newbies.
Sep 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Informative, practical, will use it as a reference for sure.
Ayuni Yoon
Mar 23, 2017 marked it as to-read
I want to read this book cause my lecturer
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
An excellent book that talks about Project Management from beginning to end. Berkun summarizes knowledge gained from years of experience as a Project Manager at Microsoft, from developing a plan all the way to politics. Each chapter includes tons of real world examples. It's structured so someone can use it as a textbook, right down to the chapter summaries and exercises.

I found the language to be very clear and Berkun offered easy to follow (usually) suggestions for how to do project management
Doug Kyle
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
While the PMI and their published book of knowledge (PMBOK) are considered by many to be the standard in IT project management, I found this book to go far above and beyond those. While the PMBOK is a great reference book for various PM related tools, this book actually speaks to how to manage, how to deal with difficult situations, and many simple tricks of the trade.

It also demystifies project management and speaks to it at a level where anyone can grasp its basics. For anyone who has read the
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Scott Berkun proposes an alternative, more casual and empirical approach to Project Management, and many elements of this book highlight that, from the hand-drawn diagrams to the chapter titles and of course the writing style. The result is a pleasant read that feels lightweight yet deep. There's a lot of good advise in there, drawn from both Berkun's personal experience with Microsoft and from third-party sources. Not every chapter is equally good however and some sections feel rushed or shallo ...more
Elizabeth Schlatter
So it's a great book, but it's a killer to read because, uh, it's about project management. I mean, I'm in awe of how well the author wrote about this subject, weaving human dynamics, philosophy, psychology, and more, including a sense of humor, into analysis of project management practices. But it's a pretty dry and dense topic. And the book is skewed towards software development. There's lots of fantastic advice and wisdom, but I'm not sure how much will "stick" for me and my work situation. O ...more
Sep 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: technical, owned
Although the book is basically a how-to book for Microsoft style project managers (a hybrid team lead/software designer role), it's got some good advice for just about anyone in an engineering field. From "How to start a project" and "How to keep your team on schedule" to "How to run meetings that don't suck" and "How to write emails that won't waste everyone's time."

Berkun includes enough anecdotes to keep the material readable, though I can't imagine reading the whole thing in a couple of sitt
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: career
If you've sought out this title, chances are you are on the right track and this book will diagnose just what you were thinking/feeling. It covers philosophy, strategy, and politics (not a dirty word, after all) and gives examples and even a few exercises to try out for yourself. Read it with a pen, highlighter, and/or notepad. By the end, you'll feel like sallying forth into your project meeting armed with a whiteboard, dry-erase marker, and flexible confidence. Also, this is a good read even i ...more
May 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: budding project managers and anyone who works in software development
Shelves: manager-fu
Lots of food for thought for budding (or experienced project managers). The thing I like the most about this book is that Scott Berkun has clearly been there working on the kinds of projects that I've worked on. I can see enough similarities between the situations he's described and one's I've been in that I really feel like I can trust what he has to say.

I think this is a book that I'll want to return to again as my career evolves and I find myself handling different kinds of projects.
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Scott Berkun is the author of four popular books, Making Things Happen, The Myths of Innovation, Confessions of a Public Speaker and Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds. His work as a writer and speaker have appeared in the The Washington Post, the New York Times, Wired, the Economist, Fast Company, Forbes, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, National Public Radio and other media. His many popular essays and ente ...more

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