The 12 Books That Enlightened My PMO Life

Managing projects in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world is not an easy task. Imagine delivering their outputs and their benefits much better than ever. By exploring the latest findings in complexity sciences, human dynamics, and advanced strategies, you can improve significantly your way and your excitement to manage projects, especially in the most complex environments.

Here are 12 books (including 2 in French) that enlightened my life as a project manager and as a PMO.

These 4 Books Helped Me Discover Exciting Findings in Complexity Sciences:

  • In The End of Certainty, Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine tackles some of the difficult questions that bedevil physicists trying to provide an explanation for the world we observe. How is it, for instance, that basic principles of quantum mechanics–which lack any differentiation between forward and backward directions in time–can explain a world with an “arrow of time” headed unambiguously forward? And how do we escape classical physics’ assertion that the world is deterministic?
  • In At Home in the Universe, Kauffman weaves together the excitement of intellectual discovery and a fertile mix of insights to give the general reader a fascinating look at this new science,  the discovery of the order that lies deep within the most complex of systems, and at the forces for order that lie at the edge of chaos.
  • In How Nature Works: the science of self-organized criticality, Per Bak explains self-organized criticality, the spontaneous development of systems to a critical state. This theory describes how many seemingly desperate aspects of the world, from stock market crashes to mass extinctions, avalanches to solar flares, all share a set of simple, easily described properties.
  • In The Thermodynamics of Evolution, An essay of thermo-bio-sociology, François Roddier shows that, under different aspects, one is able to find the same underlying processes as much in physics as in biology or sociology.  The central idea of this book is that evolution has progressively shifted from being genetic to being cultural (informational) and that the metabolism of an economy is governed by thermodynamics, just as the physiological aspects of human metabolism.

I Studied Some Important Aspects of Human Dynamics With These 4 Books:

  • In Network Science, Albert-László Barabási spans a wide range of topics from physics to computer science, engineering, economics and the social sciences. He introduces network science to an interdisciplinary audience. From the origins of the six degrees of separation to explaining why networks are robust to random failures, the author explores how viruses like Ebola and H1N1 spread, and why it is that our friends have more friends than we do.
  • In The Charisma Myth, Olivia Fox Cabane breaks charisma down into its components. Becoming more charismatic doesn’t mean transforming your fundamental personality. It’s about adopting a series of specific practices that fit in with the personality you already have.
  • In When Cultures Collide, Richard Lewis provides a guide to working and communicating across cultures, and explains how your culture and language affect the ways in which you think and respond. You can gain competitive advantage from having strategies to deal with the cultural differences you will encounter in any international business setting.
  • In L’élan sociodynamique, J.C. Fauvet present the strengths and weaknesses of four major types of organizations: mechanistic, individualistic, tribal,  and self-organizing. He describes ideas, methods, and practices designed to transform work, mixing together stress, pleasure, and performance.

These 3 “Strategy” Books Never Leave My Desk

  • In The Black SwanTaleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world.
  • In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.
  • In A Treatise on Efficacy, François Jullien shows how Western and Chinese strategies work in several domains (the battlefield, for example) and analyzes two resulting acts of war.

And Finally, If You Want to Learn Real Life Stories of Project Stakeholders Navigating a VUCA World, Read This Book :

High-Impact PMO

“This book will be an invaluable resource to both seasoned and new entrants into the PM field, offering practical insight into situations that appear on a program/ project manager’s radar as you navigate your career. By stratifying the domains of an effective PMO, the insight can assist with strategic focus and effective goal setting, especially where PMOs are not taken seriously. There’s a number of useful tools which can assist in honing your skills; give you access to enhanced levers & move you up a notch in this complex space.”

Pranash Ramanundh, Programme Planner, Dublin

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