Characteristics of Good Decisions

"Good" decisions have certain characteristics, too.

Based on a pursuit for objectivity despite being virtually impossible to attain. Project managers who make good decisions seek to identify and consider "facts and data" before making a judgment. If they involve assumptions, project managers identify and recognize them as such. They do not try to fool anyone , including themselves .

Recognize that not all facts, data, and assumptions are equal; some are more important than others. Rather than wade through minutia, they distinguish between what is and is not important and leverage the former to further decision making and action.

Consider short- and long- term impacts of a decision. They recognize the need to ensure that the project progresses. They do so by thinking about the present through the "eyes of the future." This unique perspective then enables a response rather than a reaction. The reason is that they can anticipate and prepare for what will likely happen in the future.

Look at the context of their decision by considering the environment and its major influences. They have a good idea of the issues, pressures, and stakeholders, for example, and understand their influence on project activities.

Consider, with time permitting, many viewpoints or perspectives. They recognize that they may be held captive to a paradigm that "colors" their views. Involving others in decision making not only generates commitment, but also encourages the opportunity to consider additional information and alternatives in their decision making. They receive a more balanced view that enables them to make an appropriate decision for dealing with a situation. Leaders should look through different "lenses," says Max De Pree in Leadership Jazz . He adds that it should be from the perspective of followers, through a "new reality" and experience, as well as unfairness. [7]

Not place the "horse before the cart" by determining a solution first. Instead, they define an issue or problem first, determine alternatives, select the best one, and collect feedback to determine any necessary adjustments. This approach forces project managers to think before ramming a solution into implementation. Ian Mitroff says that a nested relationship exists among problem definition, actions taken, and justifications. It becomes very important, he adds, to raise questions about all three. [8]

If considered an important activity, a feeling will likely arise by some stakeholders that a solution is being forced on them; they will lack commitment and ownership when implementing it. Since most project managers lack command and control over team members , for example, determining the solution first can place them in an adversarial position with the very people who must execute it.

Be ever mindful of the "traps" into which decision makers fall prey. John Hammond, Ralph Keeney, and Howard Raifa observe that decision makers often fall into several traps that include emphasizing considerable importance to the amount of information, supporting the status quo, justifying sunk costs, and confirming existing views. [9]

Avoid falling into the analysis paralysis trap. Instead, they seek an appropriate, not perfect, solution. The search for a perfect solution in project management can consume much time and resources, resulting in an anachronistic decision. In other words, a point of diminishing returns arises. Project managers should seek effectiveness, therefore, and not perfection . Here are two good reasons: enough facts and data are never available and both are frequently incomplete. If making a decision, they often feel forced into it. Being a perfectionist is dangerous, particularly when making decisions. Worry can take over and lead to a desire to avoid making a decision for fear of failure or waiting for someone else to make it. Otherwise, the person makes a decision by default. [10]

[7] Max De Pree, Leadership Jazz , Dell, New York, 1992, p. 8.

[8] Ian Mitroff, Smart Thinking for Crazy Times , Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, 1998, p. 18.

[9] John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, and Howard Raifa, The hidden traps in decision making, Harvard Business Review , pp. 47 “58, September “October 1998.

[10] Monica Ramirez, The perfect trap, Psychology Today , p. 34, May “June 1999.

Leading High Performance Projects
The Photoshop CS2 Speed Clinic: Automating Photoshop to Get Twice the Work Done in Half the Time
ISBN: 193215910X
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 169

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