Book Reviews

 Program Management

Program Management is an important, ground-breaking addition to both the practice and the literature of program and project management. Michel Thiry has produced an authoritative, readable, interesting, and practical summary of the evolution of the discipline of program management. He has done this by combining the best practices and standards of the several project management professional associations with his 35 years of experience as an architect, project and program manager, consultant, and teacher in both program and project management in many economic sectors and governmental agencies in many parts of the world.

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Book Title:Program Management
Author:  Michel Thiry
Publisher:  Gower Publishing Ltd. (UK)
List Price: £32.50
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 978-0-08882-7 (hardback) 978-1-4094-0716-4 (electronic)
Reviewer: Russell D. Archibald, PhD (Hon)
Review Date: September 2010

 Proactive Management of Uncertainty Using the Successive Principle: A Practical way to Manage Opportunities and Risks, 2000 by Steen Lichtenberg

ISBN 87-502-0822-5 1st Edition 2000, 334 pages
Polyteknisk Press Anker Engelunds Vej 1 DK-2800 Lyngby (Denmark)
Phone: (+45) 7742 4344, Fax: (+45) 7742 4354

Proactive Management of Uncertainty Using the Successive Principle: A practical way to manage opportunities and risks By Steen Lichtenberg

Reviewed by Russell D. Archibald, PMP, Fellow PMI
This is an important book for anyone concerned with proactively managing risk and uncertainty in projects or other forms of complex ventures in business or governmental. It breaks new ground by embracing uncertainty as an unavoidable and even welcome aspect of managing projects and presents well-proven practices for managing uncertainty and risk.

The author’s statement that “The book is a practical manual rather than a textbook, and definitely not an academic monograph” is true. Further, he says “It is written for all those who work directly with or who support management, planners and decision-makers.” The book is profusely illustrated and contains case studies, exercises and specimen solutions, as well as a glossary and selected references. It will be useful to both practitioners and consultants in the field and to teachers and students in graduate programs in project and business management. “The specific and unique mission of this book is to support and allow its target readership proactively to handle uncertainty, to identify and actively make use of the opportunities embedded in uncertainty and to be better prepared to meet the risks,” in the author’s words.

In this reviewer’s opinion the book completely fulfills this mission. The approach and methods presented in the book, including the Lichtenberg Successive Principle, have been developed and successfully applied over the past 30 years, primarily within the Scandinavian culture. This culture has always been in the forefront in the development of the newer cooperative, collaborative management styles that are becoming more important with the rapid globalization of business and industry.

The group analysis processes that form a unique contribution to handling uncertainty are well described. The Successive Principle has been applied to over 300 projects of all kinds “from strategic marketing projects through Olympic Games investments (Lillehammer, 1994) to large offshore [petroleum production] projects, and from bio-technological R & D programmes through environmental analyses to large commercial software-intensive telecom projects and programmes.”

The five primary areas of benefit of this approach are reported by Lichtenberg as:
1. Extremely realistic budget and schedule forecasts very early in the projects. No unplanned overrun has been reported since 1980 in the several hundred projects involved. 2. Increased mutual understanding and improved cooperation and consensus among the parties involved.
3. Responsible managers receive an innovative “top ten list” of areas of potential improvement including risk reduction.
4. The needed planning effort is drastically reduced.
5. Risk assurance and risk management become a more integral part of the management process.

Lichtenberg says: “Instead of considering uncertainty as a necessary evil, it should be considered as an extremely important, inspiring and useful factor given its inherent opportunities for making improvements and taking measures against risk. In the author’s opinion, uncertainty is likely to hold some of the greatest potential for improving management skills and efficiency today.”

The structure of the book assists the reader greatly in understanding the Successive Principle and its application. The author provides suggestions regarding which chapters to read and in what sequence. depending on the needs and interests of each reader.
· Chapter 1, “The Mission, the Readers and Their Needs,” sets the stage with an interesting and provocative discussion of the concepts of uncertainty and risk and the related management trends and tools.
· Chapter 2, “The Successive Principle and Its Group Analysis Process,” presents a summary of this Principle and a useful discussion of the group analysis process that it uses.
· Chapter 3, “The Qualitative Phase of the Process,” is an in-depth discussion of the qualitative first phase of the analysis work.
· Chapter 4, “The Quantitative Final Phase of the Process,” discusses and illustrates the basic practical calculations and related numerical evaluation routines that are used.
· Chapter 5, “Theory, Evaluation technique, and More Advanced Calculation Models,” provides a summary of the theory behind the Successive Principle, including both the general statistical theory and what the author calls the ‘evaluation technique.'” · Chapter 6, “Basic Applications,” views the task at hand (a project, a strategic plan or any other important assignment) from different angles, focusing on profitability, time, investment, and net operating benefit or profit in a successive set of preliminary cycles without too many details. Illustrations are given using both construction and manufacturing examples.
· Chapter 7, “Profitability Analyses,” describes a profitability procedure of proven quality that uses the cash flow concept, net present value criterion, and the Successive Principle.
· Chapter 8, “Timing or Scheduling Analysis,” discusses the applications and procedures that are particularly relevant in this area; probably the most significant efficiency improvements produced to date with the Successive Principle are in regard to scheduling and time analysis.
· Chapter 9, “Further Applications, Experience and Examples,” sets the scene for application of the Successive Principle and examines the limitations and difficulties that have been encountered. The potential for additional applications is illustrated through relevant examples.
· Chapter 10, “Case Studies,” offers the reader immediate practical illustrations of some typical analyses, including scheduling in a telecommunications company, investing in building construction, profitability of a new manufacturing product, and a new industrial venture.
“Specimen Solutions and Answers to Exercises” is a section following Chapter 10 that gives ‘specimen solutions’ (since a single correct solution to real life problems seldom exists) to the several exercises provided in Chapters 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9. Several pages of selected references are also provided, together with a very useful glossary of terms.

I recommend this book to every serious practitioner, consultant and teacher of project management in today’s fast-moving global environment, and especially to those who wish to go beyond the rather theoretical, traditional ‘risk management’ practices in use today in many industries. Proper application of the Successive Principle will allow you to exploit uncertainty in your projects and produce valuable benefits from its existence.

About the Author Dr. Steen Lichtenberg is an internationally recognized project management authority as a consultant, researcher, University professor and author. Beginning in 1970 he has pioneered the evolution of one of the “new generation” of management principles, today generally acknowledged as the Successive Principle.

As an international consultant Steen has been trusted with several hundred private and public assignments within strategic and project management in a wide variety of business areas, including several projects in the mega class. He has also developed and presented numerous industrial development seminars. In 1974 Steen was awarded the Doctor of Science degree at the Technical University of Denmark for his thesis on new project management principles.

He has been a Senior Lecturer for many years at that university and a visiting professor at several leading universities in the U.S. and other countries. Earlier he received his M. S. in Engineering, and spent 10 years in the construction industry in various engineering and management positions. He is the author of numerous reports, conference papers and articles, and his 1990 textbook on new project management (in Danish) is a standard reference in Scandinavia. Steen was President of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) (formerly known as INTERNET) from 1982 to 1985, and is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and similar Scandinavian societies.