Anatomy of a Bad Decision
At the heart of almost all major project issues lies a bad decision. Who it was made by, why it was made, what impacts it will have are all relevant discussion points when it comes to dissecting project issues. This post will talk about some key factors that feed into bad decisions.
Projects are always pressure containers. A project is almost always being struck to solve a particular problem. Being that a problem exists can be enough of a source of pressure on the project and the project team. Depending on how critical or impactful the problem is can also determine the amount of pressure being applied to the project and its extensions. Often times senior level stakeholders who have a vested interest in the project will apply pressure, knowingly or unknowingly in order for the project to complete. Often times this can lead to the project team (and project managers) feeling pressure to perform outside the norms and expectations set forth in the project plan. This can at times lead to bad decisions being made. For example, a project sponsor says they want the go-live date moved up by four weeks – if the project manager caves to this and adds more resources, does that put risk on the budget? How will the extra resources fit into the plan? Is the work divisible enough to allow for that many parallel streams of work?
Missing or Bad Information
Probably the most common source of a bad decision is a decision that is made without a complete picture (or worse yet, wrong information). Project managers (and sponsors) make a multitude of decisions during the course of a project, often times with little time. Decision-making itself is a skill that needs constant practice and honing but one of the key prerequisites of making a good decision is to ensure that you have all the information you need to evaluate the risks and potential impacts of the decision you make.
Decisions are an elemental part of all projects. Many of them are made on a daily basis through the execution of a project. Some more impactful than others but as a good project manager, you need to ensure that your team is both empowered and knowledgeable enough to take everything into consideration when making a decision that will impact the project.