Exercising Agency – A Book Review
Exercising Agency: Decision Making and Project Initiation tackles a very important topic that needs to be discussed at the very start: making the decision of whether or not to initiate a project. The word ‘agency’ can have several meanings. Here, it is used to describe the capacity, condition or state of exerting power. The book is about the power of making decisions and the factors that affect decision making, especially in making project-related decisions. This research explores how process, politics and people combine to influence the conduct of project initiation.
This first hardcover edition was published in February 2015 by Gower Publishing. It has 176 pages and is about an inch thick. The front cover displays the author’s name at the top, with the publishing company’s logo on the right side at the same level. Below them are the title in large white fonts, with the subtitle below it. Under it is an image of the back of a man in suit and hat facing a fork on the road. ISBN-10: 1472427882; ISBN-13: 978-1472427885
Exercising Agency is ideal for individuals responsible for the initiation of projects. It is also for executives making the ultimate project initiation decisions.
What Customers Say
Terry Williams described it as a very useful book for readers who want to understand project initiation in practice and how to make decisions better.
Dave Garret stated that Exercising Agency can help decision makers learn the skill of identifying projects worth doing and likely to be successful.
Content, Approach, Style
Exercising Agency is divided into 10 chapters. Chapter 1 introduces some concepts about strategy, how it is implemented through projects, project initiation, the complexities of decision making, power, politics and personality, among other influences. Chapter 2 provides a discussion of present challenges, while Chapter 3 explores what actually influences project decisions. Chapters 4,5 and 6 explore the influences of process, politics and individuals respectively on project initiation decisions. Chapter 7 is titled When Choices Go Off the Rails. Chapters 8 and 9 provide guidance for individuals on how to perform their roles and what to look out for when approving the initiation of projects. Chapter 10 guides readers on how to improve and be more effective in making decisions about project initiation.
The book uses figures, tables, topic headers, lists and paragraphs of readable length. The language used contains terms in business management, project management and organizational theory. It is a research that sought to explore how power, personality and rules influence project initiation decision making. It refers to other prior researches and compare/contrast them to results obtained. It then provides conclusions that aim to guide the readers.
Why Buy the Book
Exercising Agency is a unique text that explores areas between strategy development and project management. There are only a few references that have tried to discuss this important space and reveal issues about existing gaps. Executive teams and organizational change agents will find this book valuable in helping create an environment where better project initiation decisions are possible.
Books that Complement
Project Ethics by Jonasson and Ingason provides guiding literature for project leaders in helping them identify, evaluate and make ethically sound decisions.
James, Rosenhead, and Taylor’s Strategies for Project Sponsorship is an important reference about project sponsorship viewed from three different perspectives.
Mark Mullaly has over 25 years of combined working experience as a data analyst, project manager and senior management consultant. He is the President and Chief Organizational Therapist of Interthink Consulting, a privately held management consulting company based in Canada that he founded in 1990. It specializes in strategy, decision making and project management. Mark participated in the largest and most comprehensive research effort sponsored by the PMI. He received his PhD in 2006 from Bond University, Australia. He has written extensively on a variety of topics such as the future of PM, industry perspectives, leadership and more. He is a regular columnist on projectmanagement.com, maintains a blog, and is a keynote speaker about his new book and other topics.