Rule 4: In the Absence of Information, Executives Still Make Decisions
Since the 1970s, experts in executive decision making such as Henry Mintzberg (1973) have proven that executives prefer "informal"modes of communication such as face-to-face discussions and meetings to "formal" modes of communication such as
With the increasing pressures of competition,
For you as a project manager, this is an important understanding. Your executives will make decisions based on either good information or bad data. You decide what they get!
It has been our experience that the typical executives in project sponsor roles
One example of this rule occurs in the approval of new projects. Many of the organizations with which we are familiar have established "filters" for executive information. For example, the senior executive
Another example of this rule is shown in the area of project reporting. In discussions with a number of executives, we have determined that most of them do not read the complex project status reports that are sent to them on a monthly basis (see Figure 20.3). Worse, many of these executives report to us that even when they do read them, they either don't understand them or don't believe them! After all, do you?
Figure 20.3. Data not information
As a project manager, you must learn to communicate to your project sponsor in short, information-rich messages. In general, most project sponsors want to know two things: The first is, "Is the project OK or not OK?" (what is
This rule also applies to issues of business alignment, cost “benefit analysis, project risk management, estimation, and other critical project management information. For example, if the project risk analysis, benefits analysis, and estimation have been done poorly, it is rare that a senior business executive would have either the time, information available, or expertise to discover the errors (see Rules 5 and 6).
In effect, faced with poorly developed and presented information, the executive will simply operate on "gut feel," informal information, and organizational political concerns to make the project decision.
Decision Making in Systems Engineering and Management (Wiley Series in Systems Engineering and Management)
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
Project Management That Works: Real-World Advice on Communicating, Problem-Solving, and Everything Else You Need to Know to Get the Job Done
The Power of Scrum