by Jim Vaughan

Decision Making is Essential to Good Project Management

Dec 06, 2009
IT Leadership

Once project managers make a decision they must communicate that decision.

I find that in most organizations people complain about decision making. It seems that nobody wants to make a decision and I think the reason is obvious. Once you make a decision you are held accountable for the outcome of that decision. Should the results be poor this may not be good for your career. As a result organizations wallow in the muck of indecision.

Tom Peters (author of In Search of Excellence and many other books) indicated that the worst decision is the decision to not make a decision. The point here is that the decision to not make a decision is actually a decision in and of itself. This decision is to allow the organization to flounder without direction. This then is the worst decision a person can make. On the contrary, should a person decide to make a decision, and it is the wrong decision, this will become obvious and a correction can be made. The result is that a poor decision will actually get you further ahead than making no decision at all.

As a project manager you make hundreds of decisions each day. This starts with how many times you decide to hit the snooze alarm before getting out of bed. It continues throughout the day. How, or even if, to respond to each email you receive. Each of these decisions will help to define the path of your project. The tricky part is keeping your project on the right path.

One thing I have found is that keeping your project team in synch is essential to the success of the project. Should you make a decision that sends your team down the wrong path someone will likely inform you of this error and you can correct the direction. For me the hard part is not making the decision as much as it is clearly communicating the decision and making everyone aware of that decision.

One of the best ways to communicate a decision is through a declaration. The United States once declared its independence through a declaration. My nation’s ancestors created a formal document which clearly declared our independence in the title of that document. The document went on to further declare what independence meant to that radical group who decided to make a new life for themselves.

So to must a project manager’s direction and decisions be made through clearly documented declarations. Once you have made this declaration you have put a stake in the ground for people to follow or challenge. This is what the declaration does for you. The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America is challenged daily. Whatever declaration you make it is likely to be challenged as well. The end result will be that, after all challenges are addressed, you will now have your team operating effectively together.

You must be bold and fearless to go out and make these declarations. You must realize the damaging effects of a lack of decision. You must make declarations to be successful. Create your own Declaration of XYZ. Do this and you will become a stronger project manager.

I declare that I am a project manager.