A colleague sent some books and others arrived that are must reads for any project management looking for guidance in the modern world of complex, integrated, emergent systems in any domain.
This book caught my eye after exchanging some Twitter conversation with Troy about the notion of No Estimates. The real interests was not so much the Kanban or even the Scrum - which we do practice - but the Monte Carlo Simulation.
We live MCS on a weekly basis in our project domain. The Schedule Risk Analysis (SRA) is mandated by the acquisition processes used to manage our programs. MCS a be applied in any project domain. In Chapter 4 estimating using MCS is introduced. While Troy presents numbers we would not consider in our modeling - 90% confidence levels - the concepts are all solid. This brings up the important notion that if you're going to model anything - using MCS or Method of Moments or any algorithm - you must know the model of the project. This in itself is a major contributor to project success.
When you hear people quote George Box All Models are Wrong. Some Models are Useful. Ask first can they produce the paper in which he made that statement. The answer is "Science and Statistics," George E. P. Box, Journal of American Statistical Association, December 1976, Volume 71, Number 356, Applications Sections. And when you read that paper and then hear his quote used as an excuse for not modeling your project or system, you'll know that excuse is nonsense. All models are wrong because they are models, not the real thing. But good models are just as good as the real thing in many instances.
Visualizing Project Management, Kevin Forsberg, Hal Mooz, Howard Cotterman, Center for Systems Management (CSM). This book is the basis of a method for managing projects based on Systems Engineering. Systems Engineering is a discpline found on every defense and space project, and in many other domains where complex systems are the heart of project, user communities, and the processes they use to conduct their work.
It is rarely found in commercial software and IT shops. I'd say many of the failures found in IT and software development result directly from the absence of systems engineering principles.
This books shows you how to manage projects, develop products and services, deploy these, and operate them using Systems Engineering Principles. As stated in the forward of the 2nd edition there are 1000's of reasons for failure, bit there is not a single excuse - Mike Reid (Penn State Football).
A Primer for Model-Based Systems Engineering, David Long and Zane Scott is a book about systems engineering, the product developed and sold by the authors at Vitech, and the critically important concepts of applying Systems Engineering to projects.
Like the other two books, this book is a practitioner book. It tells you how to do things. It tells what when and where to apply the principles, practices, and processes of modeling systems using the sysML notation. This notation, the models it produces, and the elements of the model are in use on every program and project I work on. The Vitech tool is very nice. And like other system modeling tools is the vehicle for communication between team members, suppliers, and customers.
When you hear that tools get in the way of communication, ask of those making that statement have ever worked on complex, mission critical, must work first time, high risk projects? No? Like the George Box quote - please be quiet.
These books and the others in this blog under the BOOKS index are used in our practice of Performance-Based Project Management(sm). Books, papers, conferences, professional organizations are places to meet others that share our ideas and many times challange our ideas. Both are needed for improvement in our profession of increasing the probability of project success.