A well-written handbook that provides an overview of management basics and may prove a useful tool for project managers...

THE AFRICAN PROJECT MANAGER

MANAGING PROJECTS SUCCESSFULLY IN AFRICA

A clear, concise overview of project management best practices, with a particular focus on what leads to project success in Africa.

For this guide to working effectively in Africa, Davies (co-author: Cracking the Success Code, 2012) draws on his years of experience managing technology projects on the continent. Much of the book deals with information that applies to businesses in any locale—the basics of certification, establishing a project’s scope and timeline, budgeting for all necessary elements, etc.—and it does so in clear prose that is mostly free of excessive acronyms and specialist jargon. Davies goes beyond these basics through examples from his own work with telecommunications companies, public-private partnerships and nongovernmental organizations, providing concrete examples of specific issues project managers must address while working in Africa. The overall theme of the book’s Africa-specific advice is the importance of developing knowledge of the factors that determine success in a given location. For instance, a telecommunications project in Lagos, Nigeria, suffers substantial disruptions when managers fail to realize that the city’s gangs play a role in the construction industry; they should have been counted among the stakeholders whose needs were addressed. Davies also addresses the challenges of project funding in African countries, as well as the inapplicability of standard risk management techniques. The book takes a pragmatic approach to the continent’s challenges, providing guidance for accommodating them without veering into indictments of corruption or prescriptions for reform. Readers will not find specifics—e.g., the names of officials who can get building permits approved in Nairobi, or average cost overruns of website development projects in Mbabane—but they will finish the book with an understanding of how vital such local information is to the success of any major business or public undertaking in Africa. Most importantly, they will understand how to incorporate it into the crucial planning and evaluation phases.

A well-written handbook that provides an overview of management basics and may prove a useful tool for project managers preparing to work in African countries.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1494285340

Page Count: 140

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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