My book tip!
Number 2: Dr. Roland Ottmann

My book tip!<br />Number 2: Dr. Roland Ottmann 25.04.2013 - What do the experts read and recommend? At irregular intervals we ask trainers, academics and project managers to recommend key books to us.

The books recommended by Dr. Roland Ottmann, founder of Ottmann & Partner Management Consulting and Chairman of the IAPM’s Council of Experts, contribute to providing project managers with the understanding of global political, social and economic interrelationships that they need to be successful in trans-national projects.

“When you see the three books that I’m recommending, you may initially ask yourself: ‘How exactly are they relevant for the challenges that project managers face in their work?’ That’s why I’m explaining my choices in advance. In many projects I get to work with outstanding experts in their specialist fields. Yet despite their expertise, I often notice how difficult they find it not to get involved in 'turf wars' and 'pecking order struggles'. A good project manager doesn’t get involved in chicken yard politics. He rises above them like an eagle and looks down on his world from an elevated perspective. This is incredibly important because it gives him the overview he needs to make the right decisions. The books I have recommended will help you to broaden your horizons.”

Tip no. 1
David Landes: The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why some are so rich and some so poor. W.W. Norton & Company, New York

Based on the last 600 years of economic history, former Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard University Landes elucidates the reasons why some countries and regions of the world experienced near miraculous periods of explosive growth while the rest of the world stagnated. He argues that several criteria such as climate, culture and political competition play a role. This is a ground-breaking book on global economic history.

Tip no. 2
David Graeber: Debt. The First 5,000 Years. Melville House, Brooklyn/London.

Anthropologist David Graeber reverses conventional wisdom by showing the history of mankind as a history of debt. He proposes that for more than 5,000 years humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods, and even then society was divided into debtors and creditors, driving people into slavery and dependence.

Tip no. 3
Ian Morris: The Measure of Civilization: How Social Development Decides the Fate of Nations. Princeton University Press.

In the last thirty years, there have been fierce debates over how civilizations develop and why the West became so powerful. Morris, an archaeologist and historian, presents a brand-new way of investigating these questions and provides new tools for assessing the long-term growth of societies. Using a numerical index of social development that compares societies in different times and places, he sets forth a sweeping examination of Eastern and Western development across 15,000 years and offers the surprising conclusion that Western dominance has passed its zenith.

“If you want to understand the present, you have to know what happened in the past. This horizon is essential for a project manager because it enables him to place project-relevant factors in a coherent framework. Project management theory calls this ‘environmental analysis’. It’s a very popular method. Factors of influence are identified and analysed to ascertain whether they damage or support the project. Then, appropriate measures are defined and implemented to keep the damaging factors away from the project and integrate the supporting factors in it. As I’ve already mentioned, theoretical knowledge won’t work in practice unless the project manager is able to analyse global interrelationships and backgrounds. Read these three books and you’ll find it easier to fly like an eagle and see the big picture. And I promise you won’t just benefit from the new knowledge in projects, but also in other areas of your life.”

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