Project Management in Extreme Situations


Book Title:   Project Management in Extreme Situations: Lessons from Polar Expeditions, Military and Rescue Operations, and Wilderness Exploration
Author: Monique Aubry / Pascal Lievre (Editors)
Publisher: CRC Press
List Price:   $65.95
Format: Hard Cover, 316 pages
Publication Date:   2016    
ISBN: 978-1-4822-0882-5
Reviewer:     Rudy Rodriguez
Review Date: May/2017



Project Management in Extreme Situations reviews how project management tools and principles apply in non-business situations. From polar expeditions, to military commando exercises, to climbing Mount Everest, Aubry and Lievre show how project management principles are applied. I was surprised to learn how the project management issues faced in these scenarios are similar to my project management challenges. An interesting perspective on how the tools we learn (both techniques and people skills) are transferrable to all situations.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The book has three major sections with multiple chapters per section. Part One is Polar Expeditions, Part Two is Extreme Situations, and Part Three is Lessons to be Learned.

The chapters tell specific stories of how project management principles apply across different scenarios. The authors did an excellent job of describing in detail what the challenges were and how teams approached each challenge. Not all approaches were successful.


One of the reoccurring themes in this book is the emphasis on the uniqueness of every project. How you successfully handled similar projects may not work in a different environment. The same type of project you dealt with in the past will have different stakeholders (personalities), different agendas, different funding criteria, different political background, and different timelines. The book reinforces the need to apply your skill set as a project manager differently based on each unique project.

With extreme situations as the backdrop, this book exposes the flaws and successes of applying project management skills. In two different polar expeditions, both achieved their objectives but only one was successful. When a project meets its objectives, you need to identify the definition of success. If the team hates each other but meets the project objective, was it really a success? Being able to reutilize the same resources for new projects is a key success factor. Chapter 12 on The French Special Forces shows how having the same support group enhances the ability to communicate and resolve situations, literally in flight, become essential to success.

Highlights: What I liked!

The major takeaways from this book:


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About the Reviewer

Rudy C. Rodriguez, PMP

Texas, USA



Rudy C. Rodriguez
is a highly accomplished PMP Certified Project Manager with extensive experience managing cross-functional teams and providing client service, customer support and software solutions in high-profile financial and healthcare environments. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.

Rudy currently works in Dallas for UT Southwestern Medical Center managing projects in the Business Affairs department; collaborating with Financial, IT, HR, and other departmental representatives at all levels to access, initiate, prioritize, refine, and drive technology solutions. He is also involved in Process Improvement projects dealing with both departmental and inter-departmental initiatives. In past endeavors, he has developed and implemented complex technical projects and is experienced in SDLC: Waterfall, Agile, and Hybrid with over 5 years of software development experience. He has extensive experience in Operations, Sales, Customer Service, Risk Management, Scheduling, Cost Control, and Quality Management.


Editor’s note: This book review was the result of a partnership between the publisher, PM World and the PMI Dallas Chapter. Authors and publishers provide the books to PM World; books are delivered to the PMI Dallas Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library. PMI Dallas Chapter members can keep the books as well as claim PDUs for PMP recertification when their reviews are published. Chapter members are generally mid-career professionals, the audience for most project management books.

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