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The Lazy Project Manager: How to be twice as productive and still leave the office early Paperback – August 24, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Review

It is extremely unusual for me to pick up a 'management book' involuntarily. I think I lost that particular desire when I did my MBA in the nineties. However, occasionally there is a need to acquire additional information or background knowledge. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up Peter Taylor's book one Sunday afternoon, knowing that I'd promised a review. I finished it later that day, having only put it down for a meal. I really, really enjoyed it. I've read a number of the 'jokey' type of management books over the years; those that have catchy titles, and purport to be a fun read, yet seem to be. This time I was pleasantly surprised that the book not only caught and kept my attention, but that it did it in a very enjoyable, easily absorbed way. Peter's use of analogies and stories is where I found some of the value. The remainder of the value came in the real content of the book. Over the years as a project / programme management consultant, lecturer, teacher and practitioner, I've built up a pretty good education about how to manage change into organisations through projects. I cannot find fault with any of Peter's recommendations - especially the bit about being lazy! Peter has been able to enrich the content by using his stories and analogies to make a number of points, all of them common sense; even things like "it is important to separate the important from the immediate" (my words not his - you find his analogy in the book). One of the analogies that Peter uses, almost from the outset, is that of a dinosaur - in fact a brontosaurus. "I'm sure you know the one, thin at the front, thick in the middle, then thin at the other end." Well, Peter modifies the analogy a bit by saying that projects should be thick at the front, thin in the middle and thick at the other end again. The thickness of the project shape represents the amount of effort or work that needs to be done at that stage of the project. The corollary is: initiate well, compensating for difficulties, be lazy in the middle because a well organised project can run on its own like a well oiled machine if initiated well, then put some effort into finishing with real enthusiasm, helping all the stakeholders realise how well it has gone, and what a wonderful result we have. Organising your project in this fashion allows you to apply the principles of being a lazy project manager - and still be successful. That is really what it is all about. Don't forget, this is not about just being lazy and not doing the job - this is being lazy, and being successful as well. Do the job, but do the job in the most intelligent way you can, so that you can be lazy when you can. That is my kind of project management. The other bits that are interspersed throughout the book are about how to achieve the above by using a great deal of common sense. Peter's book made this entertaining, yet useful for me. - Reviewed by John Zachar, Product Development Manager with the APM. John has previously written for both Tipoffs and How to Manage a Camel, and would love to hear your feedback. Feel free to contact John with your thoughts about The Lazy Project Manager at john.zachar@btinternet.com. This review is the work of Mr Zachar and is no way connected to any views, beliefs or opinions of the APM. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

The lazy project manager illustrates how anyone can apply the simple techniques of lazy project management in their own activities in order to work more effectively and consequently improve work-life balance. This 'productive laziness' approach builds on the Pareto principle that states that for many phenomena, 80 per cent of consequences stem from 20 per cent of the causes. To put it simply, only 20 per cent of the things people do during their working days really matter.
 
Inside this book readers can discover:
  • The intelligence of laziness - why smart, lazy people have the edge over others;
  • Why the Jungle Book's 'Bare Necessities' should be the productive lazy theme tune;
  • How to get the maximum output for a minimised input;
  • Quick tips to productive lazy heaven.

In addition, the author provides some interesting (and entertaining) things about eating dinosaurs, wearing ermine cloaks, and how to spot a psychopathic woman at a funeral. Also find out why you should never go ballooning, how to deliver a good Oscar acceptance speech, and why it is important for your team that you read the newspaper each morning.  And yes, you may also learn some, quick, simple but important things about project management.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Infinite Ideas (August 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906821674
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906821678
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #743,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"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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