REVIEW - AntiPatterns in Project Management


AntiPatterns in Project Management


William J. Brown, Hays W. "Skip" McCormick, Scott W. Thomas



John Wiley & Sons Incorporated (2000)




Francis Glassborow


October 2000



If you care about being a good manager you will read this book...

This is an interesting book that contains a lot of material that is worth organising into a single source. Before I finish this review I will try to persuade you that there is much more to successful management than purely reading a book or attending a course of study. Very early on the authors of this book make it clear that they too, understand this.

The book is organised into three sections. The first of these, 'Introduction to Project Management and AntiPatterns' consists of a single chapter that leads of with 'Programmed to Fail' and concludes with a single antiPattern - 'The Standards'. Do not conclude that the authors think that standards are an anitPattern as such, however they are a focus for behaviour that is counter productive and exhibit many of the characteristics of bad management. Inappropriate or badly understood standards are, at best, unhelpful. However, in the long term working without appropriate standards leads to high cost maintenance.

Part Two is titled 'Critical Aspects of Project management' and consists of four chapters.

The first of these, chapter 2, 'People Management AntiPatterns' covers a number of problems that many of us are all too familiar with: 'Micro-Management', 'Corporate Craziness', 'The Brawl', 'Size Isn't Everything', 'Chaos' and concludes with 'Process Distintegration'.

Chapters 3, and 4 contain coverage of antiPatterns concerned with technology management and process management. The final chapter of this section deals with antiPattern collisions.

The last part of this book, 'Conclusions and Resources' contains no chapters and three appendices. Appendix A covers 'Project management Best Practices. Appendix B is a synopsis of the antiPatterns from part 2. Appendix C provides cross-reference to the contents of the two previous books in this series (

AntiPatterns: Refactoring Software, Architectures, and Projects in Crisis, and AntiPatterns and Patterns in Software Configuration Management ) Like many books on Patterns and AntiPatterns, the less thoughtful reader is likely to feel that there was nothing in the book that he did not already know. Such reactions miss the point. One of the major gains from such explicit descriptions of things that we are already aware of is to provide a systematic way of categorising our experiences. There is an added advantage is that once we can attach a label to something we are able to discuss it with others, share experiences and consider possible ways of avoiding problems.

Now the problem I see with all this is persuading those that have the power to do anything to do so. One of my friends has a manager (nothing to do with computing) who did a master's degree in Business Management. She got excellent marks and got a first class honours degree. However she is a completely incompetent manager. She knows all the theory, but seems unable to understand that theory needs to be applied. Now she has a new job lecturing on a Business Management degree course. What earthly use is the theory if you cannot apply it in practice? If you care about being a good manager you will read this book and think carefully about which antiPatterns are being practised in your company. The first step to improvement is the admission that you are not perfect. The first step to learning is to admit that you might be ignorant. If you are able to take those steps this book might help you be a better manager. If you cannot, then you are already a disaster waiting to destroy your employer.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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