I’ve lost count of the number of managers or consultants I’ve come across who claim to have a secret “rocket sauce” that’s going to make a big difference to each and every business they touch. Go in to a selection of consulting websites and more often than not you’ll see a specific methodology, outlined in a series of clunky coloured boxes, that’s supposedly unique and is going to save the world, so to speak.
Tom Peters regards Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” as the best project management manual he’s come across and I’d agree. Published in 1971 this political science classic outlines what it is to organise in order to attain and wield power successfully. Given that the really hard work on projects is always the people stuff, Alinsky’s book is probably of more benefit to a project manager in the long run than the Prince 2 manual or any of the trite click bait articles that appear on websites like Fast Company.
Alinsky was a leading community organiser of the poor and powerless in US cities in the ‘40s and ‘50s and his methods are cited as having had a major influence on both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It’s a stonker of a read for people involved in getting things done at any level in life and I often return to it for a browse before I start a new project. How about this for a whopper of a quote:
“I detest and fear dogma. I know that all revolutions must have ideologies to spur them on. That in the heat of conflict these ideologies tend to be smelted into rigid dogmas claiming exclusive possession of the truth, and the keys to paradise, is tragic. Dogma is the enemy of human freedom. Dogma must be watched for and apprehended at every turn and twist of the revolutionary movement. The human spirit glows from that small inner light of doubt whether we are right, while those who believe with complete certainty that they possess the right are dark inside and darken the world outside with cruelty, pain, and injustice.”
So, where am I going with this? Well, there’s always more than one way to skin a cat, and as long as you behave yourself, tell good stories, and deliver great results your clients aren’t going to give two hoots about your methods.