Four years ago I searched for a book on program management with little success. Two weeks ago I searched again, this time I found a gem. The Handbook of Program Management, by Dr. James Brown is a diamond mine of polished tactics and concepts that you can use to manage programs.
This is also a great book for any executive who is responsible for multiple projects, even if the executive doesn't hold the title "Program Manager." So how does Dr. Brown define the key trait of a program manger?
"A program manager is first and foremost a leader. In fact, the program manager's main leadership duty is to turn chaos into clarity for the team."
And how does business typically control chaos? Managers introduce process and methodologies. Dr. Brown writes about people versus process, however he shows that he is no process fool -- "There should be very few rules compared with the number of guidelines."
In the late eighties there was a software design process called "Structured Design." I watched as several companies embraced the process with the zeal of a TV evangelist. What happened at many of these companies is akin to Gresham's law of money. The bad processes that were instituted, drove the good talent out.
It's true. If you create too many rules, the work becomes mind numbing, driving talented software designers to companies that use guidelines or software frameworks to transform the chaos of design into a beautiful software butterfly.