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VINE VOICEon November 19, 2009
As a practicing Project Manager (PM), I am always looking for ways to do my job better and for best practices that I can adopt. So, when the opportunity came my way to read this book, I jumped on it and am not sorry I did so. The Lazy in the title refers to doing things better so you do not have to do as much and the subtitle of this book is "How to be twice as productive and still leave the office early" which is a very worthy goal for anyone in any position and a skill that I would dearly love to learn!

The book itself is a very quick read. There are essentially only 100 pages of real text and the book's format is relatively small and there is lots of white space. I was able to read through it in a few hours time. The questions then becomes, is the time investment worth it? And, are you learning enough from reading this book to bother with it?

My answers are unqualified "yes"es!

While the book is short and snappy it does cover the main things that PMs should focus on and spend their time on. The author divides any project into three phases: Startup, execution, and conclusion. Most of the book is spent on the Startup phase as that is the time when you need to really work hard at the project to make it succeed. The author wisely focuses on the two most critical ingredients that will make or break any project: The planning work for how the project should be executed; and the communications process to make sure everyone involved with the project knows what the plans are and what to do about them. Everyone involved with the project includes the project sponsor and any outside influencers that may not be a formal part of the team, but are critical to the project's success. This phase also has the critical planning for how to combat the inevitable attempts at project scope creep.

For the execution part, the author's recommendation is to simply relax and let the team do its work according to the plans prepared. If you spent the time to plan properly, then in this stage all you need to do is monitor that the project is progressing as it should and delegate the real hard work to your team members. In the final stage, a strong recommendation is made to perform a "post-mortem" to learn valuable lessons that can be applied to other projects. Of course, battling project scope creep continues in these phases as well.

The writing style is breezy and light. This is not a negative thing! I liked the introduction of stories, quotes, and anecdotes that illustrated various points by either making fun of the author himself or complete tangents! (what does it say about me, that I got the point of the woman who buries her mother at first glance???) Many professional books tend to give anecdotes from the author's past in which the author is highlighted as always making the right choice and being the consistent hero. One of the strongest points of this book is that most of the anecdotes represent situations where the author was making missteps! Even an anecdote that has the project ultimately succeed is described as one where the author - the PM! - went off to a bar to drown his sorrows and consequently caused his team to do the right things and save the day! All by happenstance. I loved it!

The author talks initially of the Pareto principal where 20% of the work is responsible for 80% of the effects and he applies this at the end of the book by summarizing his teachings in two rounds. In the first round he summarizes his previous 100 pages into 13 bullets spanning six pages; and then he reiterates this to go down to 10 points spread across a page and a half! This works quite well as a reminder of what the book was about and represents well the kind of humorous approach that is evident throughout the book.

As someone who has been managing projects for over 20 years, the quality of his advice was also important to me. On the one hand, I did not learn anything that I did not know. On the other hand, it was nice for me to learn that I am indeed a `lazy' project manager!!! (his definition of lazy is someone who has intelligently planned the work and is diligent in smartly executing the work so you do not need to become a hero that spends many hundreds of extra hours in resolving unnecessary or avoidable crises). In short he advocates planning projects well in the beginning; allowing the team to resolve most of the problems that come up during the project reserving your efforts for those things that cannot be resolved by anyone else; conducting a post-mortem at the end of the project; and communicate, communicate, communicate non-stop. From my own personal experience I know that this is absolutely the right advice.

Should everyone who is in Project Management get a copy of this book? Almost. If you are new to it or are contemplating entering the field, then I would NOT recommend this book as you will probably get more value from reading one of the more extensive discussions of the nuts and bolts of how to run a project. This book will come into its own for you, and provide much value, only after you have a few projects under your belt and are ready to try and figure out how to be better at it. Nonetheless, given the quality of the advice, the great writing style, and the nice way in which these important concepts are stated, I give this book 5 stars.
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on August 31, 2009
Peter Taylor was able to put together many practical and valuable project management lessons learned in a very funny and easy manner. He walked the talk by providing readers with a 2 page summary of the core content of the book, what makes the "lazy community" happy.

If you do not consider yourself lazy, you are going to understand the benefits of "productive laziness"; if you are already a "lazy project manager" the book will make you feel better (you are not alone! :o) and on top of that will give you many interesting lessons learned, without too much effort.
I do recommend the reading!
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VINE VOICEon January 19, 2010
Peter Taylor is a clever clever man, and lucky us, he likes to pass it on. Luckier still, the man knows how to write: "The Lazy Project Manager" is entertaining, informative, and most of all, succinct. If you manage IT Projects, Peter Taylor knows that you're already in trouble. For the average Project Manager, "IT" means "Information Trouble"--be it communcating, guesstimating, or prevaricating, Taylor knows your pain. In order to provide you with some quick relief, he does two things to prove that he is clever:

1) He tells you that if you really need to you can skip to the end and get a quick recap of the core points

2) He writes everything else so that it is not only simple, it is well worth the effort of reading through.

So if, like me, you clutch this book while treading water, you will quickly find that the words inside can be used as a flotation device. They may also be quickly consumed and deployed for the full "raft" effect. I was surrounded by work, over my head in deadlines, and despite being in the thick of holiday overtime I still managed to read this book in about two days. I've since read it again, just to keep myself focused as I gradually transition my job to his way of thinking.

So what is his way of thinking? What exactly does it mean to be "lazy"?

It means this: you can't do it all. You shouldn't do it all. And the best way to figure that out is to focus your efforts at the right parts of the lifecycle. Whereas most Project Managers find themselves ramping up at the beginning, furiously frenetic during development, and then tapering off the long hours during implementation and rollout, Taylor suggests that it's far easier if you focus your effort at the front. Get all your ducks in a row, let others take charge of their responsibilities, and--surprise--you'll soon find yourself in the role of "Clockwork Manager", only occasionally having to give things a nudge.

Don't think the above oversimplification gets you out of buying this book! You need the rest, the full package: the interesting anecdotes that'll have you nodding your head, the very useful advice on how to deal with people--starting with yourself, and the very good reasons why your calm capability will lead your team to less stress, more success.

Highly recommended. Top on my list and I'm purchasing an extra copy or two in the event of emergency.
[Disclaimer: I discovered this book because I was provided a complimentary copy]
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on February 17, 2011
"All projects are thick at one end, much, much thinner in the middle, and then thick again at the far end," according to Peter Taylor in this book. Thus projects are the inverse of brontosauruses, which are thin at both ends and thick in the middle. Most of the book is structured around this idea of what you need to do at the beginning of a project, what you need to do in the middle, and what you need to do at the end.

The author is happy to dispense some Machiavellian advice: "It's important to let everyone know that you have arrived and that you demand that things are done your way, the right way," and "A good way to gain the upper hand is to ensure that the people...who may give you some problems have deliverables very early on in the project." This advice is good advice, even if expressed in a somewhat blunt manner.

The book is short and entertaining, but it does contain a lot of practical wisdom on project management, particularly in the chapters on "Quick Tips to Productive Lazy Heaven" and "Even Quicker Tips for the Really Lazy". You could get much of the productive value from the book just by reading those chapters, but then you would miss out on the author's witticisms and strange and wonderful stories.
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on September 7, 2011
This is an excellent read on how to make our jobs easier as PM's. It is written with a sense of humor and humility that made it easy for me to engage and learn. Peter pairs advice with real life experiences to make understanding how you can have a positive impact on the projects you manage, all while doing less work. If you have ever had to defend, or wondered yourself about, the value of thoughtful planning, warm and fuzzy team building, or the need to communicate to stakeholders, you will find examples of what goes well when done properly and doesn't go so well when missed in The Lazy Project Manager. Let the experiences of Peter and his past colleagues entertain and educate you.

As an added bonus, you'll get a quick and easy test you can apply to your sponsors, coworkers, and friends to determine who the psychopaths are. I am happy to report that none of my friends that responded on Facebook are psychopaths.
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on September 16, 2014
It's is a pleasure to have read Peter Taylor's deeply experienced perspective on Project Management. The book is a delight and it's focus on "blocking and tackling" is refreshing. The lessons learned here form an excellent checklist that every project manager should commit to memory.
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on May 13, 2011
A tiny book of home spun, in-the-trenches wisdom from a project manager that's clearly experienced the trials and tribulations of many development cycles. For those familiar with routine issues faced by projects, Taylor's stories and advice will ring true in a concise, practical manner you'll want to pass around the office.
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on March 31, 2011
This book takes a different look at the project manager job. I've read a few books on project management, and this one differs in a fun and enlightening way. Peter Taylor is serious about the challenge, but not deadly serious. Instead of focusing on the nuts and bolts level of project management - work breakdown structures and the like, he suggests we take an overall look of the project and tells us more how a project is orchestrated, so to speak, than how to play the individual notes. He gives us a big picture telling us things are toughest and the beginning and again at the end. And if you do it right, the middle part is fairly clear sailing. But, not to get too comfortable, he says. How it begins is how it ends, so he advises the project manager how to get it off on the right foot. To do that takes a little leg work.

He talks about several key points that lead to a successful project, things like knowing how to communicate with project sponsors and particularly with the team--they've all got personalities and styles to be aware of. It's a lot about communication and it's a lot about dealing with people on a human level, that part of a project that I've always found more critical than many books imply. This all takes some time and attention, so he's not recommending a project manager play a passive role.

At the same time, Taylor says we shouldn't overdo it - that's where his euphemistic term "lazy" comes in. (It's not really about being lazy, of course.) You could try to be a superhero and handle everything that goes wrong yourself, for one thing, an easy thing to lapse into if you're not careful. And then he talks how to be available to everyone and how much and how to keep your life intact at the same time. He talks about the tricks in balancing responsibilities and getting the whole team to share the load. I think he does a good job of providing a working perspective a project manager should take going into a project.

The book is written in a warm and open way. Taylor doesn't take himself too seriously, as I've said, though he clearly seems to have the "street creds" to claim expertise in the field. He keeps it light while delivering a substantial message to project managers - new or experienced. It's not a long book and it's easy to read. There are lots of numbered lists of critical items he's covered, making it easy to review what has been explained in the book. His hand-drawn charts are particularly clear and useful. In total, I'd say the book delivers what he promises. My conclusion: give it a try.
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on March 30, 2014
I am a professional with experience of many 'projects' without them actually being called that. I won a contract with "Project Manager" in the title and specific accountability for the planning and administration of other team members. I wanted an initial 'high level overview' of the role before starting on a more formal and technical study. This book did the job perfectly.
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on October 13, 2011
At least for me it seems like common sense. Prioritize, delegate and focus. Communication is key. I felt I had heard all of this before but I have been on project teams in some capacity or another for over 25 years. Should be read by anyone just starting out on projects. The book is a quick read and is well written. The Kindle version is well formatted.
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