You would call Frank Ryle a quiet man, at least based on an initial encounter.
And when you delve further into his background you might add the description of quietly efficient.
Because that’s what he is.
But if Ryle’s manner is low key, his business of imparting efficiency in the workplace is high profile, not just because of his expanding reputation in the corporate and academic world, but also because of a book that he has written that deals with the often elusive art of being efficient in the face of that major and potentially overwhelming workplace project.
Dublin-born Ryle is known as being one of the world’s leading project management experts and he explains his methods in his new book, “Keeping Score, Project Management for the Pros.”
If you judged it by its cover you would be forgiven for initially believing that this was a book of golf tips and instructions. Not quite, though it uses golf as a metaphor and teaching tool for project managers, or those who would be such.
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Ryle, who is indeed a handy golfer and plays off a handicap of six, has written his book in a time and global economy when the old saying that “time is money” has never been so true.
As Ryle puts it, when it comes to getting projects done on time, money used to be no object.
“But in an era of belt-tightening, it’s now both money, time and higher costs when work that has to be redone due to misdirection, or insufficient planning.”
Ryle, who lives with his wife and two children in Princeton, New Jersey, has to date taught project management to more than 10,000 students in 22 countries. An engineer by training, he has accumulated more than 20 years of experience managing billion dollar projects for a premier global engineering and consulting firm.
In his book, Ryle shows how to manage any project, anytime, anywhere, this through what advance publicity describes as “an accessible nine step approach that distills the knowledge areas of professional project managers using lessons from a lifetime of golf. Just as a golfer’s approach and swing must be simple, repeatable, and reliable, so must an approach to project management.”
According to Ryle, oftentimes projects are organized via to-do lists and the phenomenon known as “winging it.” This is, argues Ryle, the “fire, ready, aim” approach.
But without a plan, he says, the juggle of managing stakeholders, realistically assessing goals, defining requirements, mitigating risks, calculating time needed to do the work, doing the project, motivating the team, and other factors can cause confusion or chaos.
Ryle, in his teaching work, focuses on area such as the hiring of project managers as a leading economic indicator; what he describes as the three most important questions to ask when starting a project; the huge amount of emerging opportunities for project managers in nontraditional industries and how project management expertise gives managers, or executives, an edge in the competitive workplace.
In the last decade, according to Ryle, project management has evolved from a skill into a core competency for organizations large and small, yet, at this juncture, only 500,000 people are certified project managers.
Still, with six figure salaries the norm for project managers, the efficient ones at any rate, Ryle expects that number to rise.
If Sun Tzu gave us the art of a well managed war, Frank Ryle is now offering the art of the well managed project. The sword has cut a full circle and has become a golf club.
His book, which has a companion DVD, is being published by IIL Publishing, a division of the Manhattan-based International Institute of Learning. It will be out in April. Details at www.iil.com.