Managing Project Competence



Book Title:  Managing Project Competence: The Lemon and the Loop
Author:  Rolf Medina
Series:  Best Practices and Advances in Program Management
Series Editor: Ginger Levin, PhD
Publisher: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group
List Price:  UKP 55.99 / US$ 89.95
Format: Hard cover, 170 pages
Publication Date:   2018    
ISBN: 978-1-4987-8438-2
Reviewer:     Ralf Müller, DBA, MBA, PMP
Review Date:   July 2018



Authored by Dr Rolf Medina, who is a boundary spanner working both as independent consultant and in academia, this book makes a highly welcome difference to the wealth of practitioner-oriented books in the field of management.

The difference lies in balancing both the generality of the wide range of existing research literature on the subject with the particularity of real-life cases experienced by the author, obtained in his many years of consulting in and for organizations of various sizes and industries.  Through this, the book allows leveraging research findings of general nature, stemming from hundreds, if not thousands of companies in published studies, with the situational specifics of real-life situations in organizations, written with a sense of ‘usability’ that allows readers to apply the book’s subjects directly onto their organizational reality for operational implementation. This makes the book an outstanding reading for those who look forward to ‘learn’ new insights, instead of just being entertained by the success stories of a single author or well-known name, as done in most of the popular ‘airport bookshop’ type of management readings.

“Managing Project Competence: The lemon and the loop” is a compelling and powerful contribution to the field. Written by someone who “is passionate about people’s growth”, the book builds on the author’s many years of experience in consulting for large organizations like IKEA or Sony in various aspects of management and competence development, combined with his academic research in organizational behavior and innovation, his doctoral work at SKEMA Business school in France, and his visiting faculty work at Umeå University, Sweden.

In a book like this, readers typically look forward to be guided by new insights that can be implemented into their corporate reality. For these readers, Medina’s book will not disappoint.

The book starts with an in-depth introduction into the different dimensions of knowledge and fits them into a tangible ‘lemon’ model which includes performance related, as well as knowledge renewal related aspects, under special consideration of context, culture and time. This lays the foundation for Chapter 2, which goes on to explain how to manage competences in an organizational context. For that Medina develops a process, which he terms the ‘competence loop’, and deepens the understanding of this process by introducing the mechanisms that make this process work and describing how they relate to the social and organizational reality in corporations.

In chapter 3 he bridges from knowledge intensity in organizations to projects as arenas for learning. Through a thorough review of existing theoretical perspectives, such as the project-based versus project-oriented organization, he develops a granulate picture of the context contingency of the various characteristics of knowledge in organizations. This is backed-up by three case study organizations with nine embedded cases, which underscore and explain the different contextual influences that impact the similarities and differences in managing competences in different organizations.


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About the Reviewer

Ralf Müller, DBA, MBA, PMP

Oslo, Norway



Dr Ralf Müller is Professor of Project Management, Department of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, Norway, as well as adjunct and visiting professor at several other institutions worldwide. He lectures and researches in leadership, governance of projects, organizational project management, and research methods. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Project Management Journal and author or co-author of more than 230 academic publications. Among the many awards he has received is the 2016 PMI Fellow of the Institute Award, the 2015 PMI Research Achievement Award (a life-time achievement award), and the 2012 IPMA Research Award, which he received together with Drs. Monique Aubry and Brian Hobbs.

Before joining academia, Dr Müller spent 30 years in industry consulting with large enterprises and governments in more than 50 different countries for their project management and governance. He also held related line management positions, such as Worldwide Director of Project Management at NCR Corporation.

Professor Müller can be contacted at [email protected]