By Linky van der Merwe
Recently I had to make a very big decision that would influence my life for years to come. I realised just how hard it is to make sure that the best decision is made and that one can have peace of mind after you have made the decision.
Since effective decision making is one of the many soft skills a project manager needs on a daily basis, I think it’s worth sharing some good practices and tips.
According to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), effective decision making involves the ability to negotiate and influence the organisation and the project management team. Some guidelines for decision making include:
- focus on the goals to be served
- follow a decision-making process
- study the environmental factors
- analyse available information
- stimulate team creativity
- manage the risk
Styles for Decision Making
Let’s have a look at basic decision styles used by project managers.
Command is a more autocratic style that may be fit in many circumstances, but not so much in the project context, unless it’s a matter of safety.
It’s a good idea to consult with the team members while following a proper decision making process that will probably lead to the best outcome.
By the end of the decision making process, you would want consensus among team members and for people to agree that the best possible decision has been made.
In any situation there are four major factors that will affect the decision style you use:
- Time constraints
Model for decision making
Next you will find a good decision making model or process to use with your project teams.
#1 Problem definition
When you are faced with having to make an important decision, it’s very important to fully explore, clarify and define the problem. Look at it from all angles, not just from your own viewpoint.
#2 Problem solution generation
Now comes the part where you brainstorm multiple solutions, not making a premature decision.
#3 Ideas to action
You need to define evaluation criteria. Then you rate the advantages and disadvantages (pros and cons) of the alternatives in order to select the best solution. There are many tools available to assist you with this, for example the “multi-criteria calculator” that can be downloaded from project management.com.
#4 Solution action planning
After the decision has been made, it’s recommended to perform a post-implementation analysis, to evaluate the decisions made and to acknowledge the lessons that you learned.
#5 Evaluate the outcome
The last step in the process is to evaluate how well the problem was solved or project goals were achieved.
I trust the next time you need to make decisions on your projects, you will have a process to follow that will allow you time to look at alternatives, to evaluate and score them and ultimately to make the best decision under the circumstances.