Deadline: an interesting way of learning project management

Today, I’m here to write about a novel, but not any novel, “The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management.” This novel has everything everyone can dream about: spies, corporations complots, and project management.

The cover of the book

This novel follows Mr. Tompkins (also known as Mr. T.), a recently fired manager trying to catch sleep in the “Released to Seek Opportunities” event from his ex-company. There, he finds Lahska Hoolihan, a spy from a Soviet (fictional) nation.

Up to here, everything looks interesting, it catches the attention of the reader the ironic idea of an event for the fired people and that a spy is in there. Still, everything becomes even better when the spy tries to hire him but at the same time drugs and abducts him.

This was the weapon that contained the drug
“Dr. Pepper” by Mike Mozart, image retrieved from Flickr

The first two chapters present us these two characters, which are interesting in their own way but using specifically the character of Mr. T. we have the information we need to learn about project management.

Mr. T. remembers one course he tried to assist while he was in the company, but he quit it a few moments after it started. This, because even it was a course about project management, the instructor didn’t say anything about the people, the team.

The second chapter, while in drugs, Mr. T. remembers this event in his life more vividly, the course cover:

  • PERT Charts
  • GANNT Charts
  • Status reporting
  • Interfaces to HR department
  • How to conduct weekly meetings
  • Use of e-mail time cards
  • Progress tracking
  • Project Milestone reporting
  • Quality Programs

As a person that doesn’t know a lot about these things, sounded not that bad, but the problem of all this for Mr T. was how that course didn’t have any of:

  • People selection
  • Task matching
  • Motivation
  • Team formation

And know I understand why everything that was suggested in the course was bad, as Mr. T. said, “Get the right people. Then, no matter what all else you may be doing after that, the people will save you.” And this reminded me, my last internship, when my manager always was trying to look out for the team and doing these tasks, and everything made sense.

This way the book introduces concepts that may be clear, but everything can be understood in a fun and entertaining way.