First, I need to apologise to Marlet who sent me this book months ago. I’ve read it twice and I’ve referred to it a lot (and in articles like this one on project contracts), but I haven’t actually reviewed it. So here we go.
Projectmatig Creëren 2.0 is a Dutch project management manual that is one of the leading ways of delivering projects in The Netherlands. Project-Driven Creation is the international, English-language pocketbook version of the system that powers many Dutch projects.
It’s a full-colour, 160+ pages little book and it’s very easy to read. The English-language editor has done a fantastic job making the book read naturally. It covers the high level concepts about getting projects done so there isn’t a ton of detail on each subject. However, the key points are there, and if you understand how projects and teams work, you’ll find these ideas very easy to implement.
The tips in the book are practical, and even if you don’t go for the full PDC approach you’ll take something from this book. For example:
- Have an uneven number of people on your Project Board.
- Prioritise quality.
- Create a project contract (this is a really good idea that I’d like to take forward on my projects).
- Beware of project tourists: “A project often attracts busybodies.”
The authors, Jo Bos, Ernst Harting and Marlet Hesslelink, advocate a project kick off process of 1-4 days. The emphasis here, and throughout the project, is on collective responsibility, collaborative goal setting and planning.
Results, Not Benefits
The book is results-driven. That is, there isn’t any talk of ‘benefits’. In fact, there isn’t much of the traditional project management
The authors discuss the effects of the project and the results during the section on defining the project, and it’s all very clearly explained:
The effects of a project are any of the consequences related to the execution of the project. These can be both intentional and unintentional and both positive and negative… For each of the positive effects, the project team (and the sponsor) must address this question: how can we promote it?
Then there’s a short table to complete with the effects of your project in those categories. It’s not something you can print out and use; you’ll have to recreate it yourself in your project document. But it’s an easy win and it makes results, effects, benefits or whatever you want to call them, really clear to everyone involved.
Managing A Culture Change
The authors are clear that this way of working is a holistic, responsible and collaborative approach to managing projects. It isn’t a manual that you can shove at someone and ask them to get on with it. You need senior level buy-in, but I reckon you could do that on one project without having to uproot the culture of your entire business, as long as your sponsor was in agreement.
The authors write:
Implementing PDC demands more than just a new toolkit. Its core principles of personal leadership, responsibility, commitment, co-operation, and transparency are the foundation of Project-Driven Creation culture. The more this deviates from the existing organisational culture, the greater the resistance will be to the new philosophy… There has to be a champion for this shift in culture within the organisation. Is it you?
Should You Buy It?
If you don’t have any knowledge of what it’s like working on a project, then no. While some areas are detailed enough – there’s a good description on preparing a work breakdown structure, for example – others are so high level that you’ll need more theory and practice behind you to implement it.
If you understand the theory of project management and are looking for ways to generate buy-in, deal with stakeholders, create a culture of project success in your company and build a sense of collaborative enterprise, then yes, this will help you do all of those.
Remember that it is only the pocketbook version of what is a full project management method. There’s no index in the book, so you are on your own when it comes to trying to find that useful quote. Use it to spark ideas and set the tone, rather than as a manual for doing the work.
I can see that it will be one of those practical, easy-to-read guides that I’ll be referring to time and time again.