Making Things Happen Book Summary - Making Things Happen Book explained in key points

Making Things Happen summary

Brief summary

Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun is a practical guide to project management. It provides valuable insights and strategies for leading and executing successful projects, emphasizing the importance of leadership, communication, and effective decision-making.

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Table of Contents

    Making Things Happen
    Summary of key ideas

    Understanding Project Management

    In Making Things Happen, Scott Berkun provides a comprehensive guide to project management. He begins by emphasizing the importance of understanding the nature of the project, the team, and the stakeholders. He argues that a project manager's primary role is to manage the uncertainty and complexity inherent in any project, and to do so effectively, one must be prepared to make decisions and take responsibility for the outcomes.

    Berkun also discusses the significance of setting clear goals and expectations, and the need for a well-defined project scope. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the project's context, including its history, the organization's culture, and the political landscape. According to Berkun, this understanding is crucial for making informed decisions and managing expectations.

    Leadership and Team Dynamics

    Next, Berkun delves into the intricacies of leadership and team dynamics. He argues that a project manager must be an effective leader, capable of inspiring and guiding the team towards the project's goals. He emphasizes the importance of building trust and fostering a positive team culture, where open communication and constructive conflict are encouraged.

    Berkun also discusses the challenges of managing a diverse team, including dealing with different personalities, skill sets, and work styles. He provides practical advice on how to leverage the team's diversity as a strength, rather than a source of conflict or inefficiency.

    Planning and Execution

    When it comes to planning and execution, Berkun advocates for a flexible approach. He argues that while detailed plans are essential, they should be viewed as a starting point rather than a rigid blueprint. He emphasizes the need for continuous adaptation and adjustment, as projects inevitably encounter unforeseen obstacles and changes.

    Berkun also discusses the importance of effective communication throughout the project lifecycle. He provides insights into managing stakeholders, resolving conflicts, and ensuring that everyone involved in the project is well-informed and aligned with the project's goals and progress.

    Dealing with Challenges and Failures

    Throughout Making Things Happen, Berkun acknowledges that challenges and failures are inevitable in any project. He provides practical advice on how to anticipate and mitigate risks, as well as how to respond when things don't go according to plan. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining a positive attitude and learning from setbacks.

    Berkun also discusses the concept of 'post-mortems' – structured reviews conducted after the completion of a project. He argues that these reviews are essential for capturing lessons learned and improving future project management practices.


    In conclusion, Making Things Happen offers a wealth of insights and practical advice for project managers. Berkun's approach is grounded in his experiences at Microsoft, and he shares numerous anecdotes and examples to illustrate his points. Whether you're a seasoned project manager or someone new to the role, this book provides valuable perspectives on the art and science of making things happen.

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    What is Making Things Happen about?

    Making Things Happen by Scott Berkun is a practical guide to project management. It offers valuable insights and strategies for turning ideas into reality, overcoming obstacles, and leading successful projects. Whether you're a seasoned project manager or just starting out, this book provides actionable advice and real-world examples to help you make things happen.

    Making Things Happen Review

    Making Things Happen (2008) by Scott Berkun explores the art of project management, providing valuable insights for those striving for success. Here's why you should pick up this book:

    • Loaded with real-world wisdom, it equips readers with practical strategies to navigate the complexities of project management and drive results.
    • By highlighting the importance of communication and leadership, the book empowers individuals to effectively coordinate teams and accomplish goals.
    • With its engaging stories and anecdotes, it brings project management to life, making it an enjoyable read that keeps you hooked from start to finish.

    Who should read Making Things Happen?

    • Individuals interested in project management and leadership
    • Professionals looking for practical strategies to successfully execute projects
    • Entrepreneurs and business owners seeking insights on turning ideas into reality

    About the Author

    Scott Berkun is a renowned author and speaker, known for his expertise in project management and creativity. With a background working at Microsoft, Berkun has a wealth of experience in leading and managing teams. He has written several books on these topics, including 'The Art of Project Management' and 'The Myths of Innovation'. Berkun's work provides valuable insights and practical advice for anyone looking to make things happen in their professional and personal lives.

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    Making Things Happen FAQs 

    What is the main message of Making Things Happen?

    The main message of Making Things Happen is that effective project management requires leadership, communication, and a focus on results.

    How long does it take to read Making Things Happen?

    The reading time for Making Things Happen varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in about 15 minutes.

    Is Making Things Happen a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Making Things Happen is a worthwhile read for project managers and anyone interested in effective leadership and achieving results.

    Who is the author of Making Things Happen?

    The author of Making Things Happen is Scott Berkun.

    What to read after Making Things Happen?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Making Things Happen, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Coaching for Performance by Sir John Whitmore
    • Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
    • Start with Why (old version) by Simon Sinek
    • The No Asshole Rule by Robert I. Sutton
    • Good to Great (old version) by Jim Collins
    • Inspired by Marty Cagan
    • The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto
    • You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen
    • Winning by Jack Welch with Suzy Welch
    • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg