Roel Wessels, Holland Innovative, © IO

Holland Innovative has played a key role in the success story of Brainport Eindhoven for years. So it was high time to capture that story, which revolves around an integral way of systems engineering, in a book. “The Complete Project Manager”, written by Roel Wessels, is now available in Dutch, English, and German. It is an important addition to the already existing training courses.

The examples are a bit different and the use of language is a bit less exuberant here and there, but apart from that, the success formula is unchanged: after editions in Dutch and English, The Complete Project Manager is now also available in German. Author Roel Wessels is not only personally proud of the result but also feels “very fortunate to have been able to give the industry something that wasn’t there yet”. 

A book in German felt logical for Wessels’ employer Holland Innovative. “Germany is a technology country and working together with our German neighbors is always very rewarding”, says CEO Hans Meeske. “The book and the accompanying masterclasses connect the profession of project management with those of product development and systems engineering. In Brainport, we know how to reach the top in the development and realization of mega-complex systems; by looking for connections with key institutes and key players all over the world we can accelerate even faster”. 

Want to know more about the importance and power of systems engineering within Brainport Eindhoven? Then read this short series.

The original edition of The Complete Project Manager has already found its way to many technicians who wanted to become proficient in project management. Large companies such as DAF Trucks, VDL, ASML, and Thermo Fisher, but also the TU Eindhoven student teams have been able to benefit from it. Over the years, the 83,000 words and many models in the book have proven to be a perfect addition to the training sessions that Wessels has continued to provide on the theme on behalf of Holland Innovative. The book has thus also become a business card for the ‘systems thinking’ that characterizes Brainport Eindhoven. Meeske: “Working on integral solutions, personal development, leadership, and behavior, meeting and connecting. That’s how our ecosystem has become successful, but it’s also one of the keys for project managers in the broader world of tech.”

Leadership

But will there be enough project managers for whom this knowledge is intended? Wessels: “Of course there are. It is a misunderstanding that project teams should only have one project manager. After all, project management is a skill that every team member should master. So this book is for everyone who occasionally works in projects or is responsible for results in some other way as well.” A big part of success is about showing leadership. “Knowledge workers – mostly technicians in mechanics or software engineers, but also people from the business or service sector – also need to be able to deal with autonomy and with self-managing teams. Everyone must be able to take on the role of project leader, even if the idea sometimes produces scary faces at first glance. I show people that taking control and taking responsibility is actually incredibly cool”.

In addition to his own insights, Wessels’ book also gives an overview of the total playing field of management theories, from traditional to the latest Agile insights. “I don’t put all these methodologies side by side, but instead, I show how they are connected and can be applied together. After all, systems thinking requires multidisciplinary collaboration, and speaking a different ‘management language’ should not be a barrier to this”. 

Moreover, by peeling everything off to its essence, you can speak the language of your audience, says Wessels. “I already noticed that when I worked at DAF. At a certain point, a whole bunch of people came in who had first worked at Fokker Airplanes until that company was forced to stop. In principle, they had learned the same profession as we did at DAF, but were accustomed to a completely different selection process with a specific set of considerations. To put it simply: in the aircraft industry you don’t have an emergency lane to which your product can swerve in case of bad luck”.

Gründlichkeit and Lockerheit

Finding “the language of your audience” was more than just a matter of finding the right words for the German edition. Wessels: “Together with my German colleague Jörg Bewerunge, I spent months looking for the right balance between the German Gründlichkeit – which I love very much – and our Dutch Lockerheit. At first, we thought that all the jokes and quips in the book should be left out, but in the end, we didn’t opt for that. After all, the combination of content and humor make my book and master classes what they are, and what’s more: Germans just expect this from us. In this way, we managed to maintain the style without getting into the allergy zone of the average German reader.”

An additional advantage is that Wessels also recognizes this German tendency towards perfectionism in the tech world where he usually gives his training. “A project manager has a natural tendency to try and offer a perfect solution, but that is not always the best choice. After all, if you necessarily want to offer a solution to the customer, this can lead to delaying behavior, simply because that solution is often not immediately available. I call this ‘submarine behavior’. It is much more effective to show action at an early stage and involve the outside world, even if you don’t have all the answers yet. After all, no one can be a hero in a complex multidisciplinary environment by doing it as an individual. On the contrary, you are a hero if you dare to involve that environment and get it moving. The solution then follows automatically. What’s more, it keeps the client and the team much more connected.” 

Mini-launches

For the launch of the book, Holland Innovative opted for a series of mini launches. “In that respect, these times of Corona actually help us”, says Meeske. “It has become much easier and more common to be digitally active and our trainers have become proficient in digital interaction. We also know that you can only conquer the world of project management step by step. So we are heading in a direction that fits in with that, with a series of mini launches.”

The virtual launches are accompanied by interviews and masterclasses. “We will make full use of our existing contacts; in Germany, for example, with customers such as Bosch, MTU, Itron, or Stuttgart University, with whom we are already partnering. I also see plenty of opportunities in the collaboration with the Hannover Messe. And, of course, our international customers in the Netherlands: we are already giving English and German-language masterclasses here. Altogether, this is a great opportunity for a keynote or energizer by Roel to roll out this expertise more broadly in your company – or to boost it.”

Want to know more? Book a master class directly or order the book first? Here you can find all the information.

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About the author

Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.