Holding a management role, no matter how many reports you have or how big your team is, means that you’re going to have to make decisions. Making them isn’t really the problem, however, it’s knowing how to make better decisions and to consistently make the best choice for your project that matters.
Though it might seem like some people have a natural gift for great decision-making, this really isn’t the case. All good decision making in project management comes from putting effort into analyzing past experiences, inputting current information and trying to predict the most likely outcome. What many business gurus might like to call “gut instinct” is really just an accumulation of internal data processing.
Thus, being able to improve your decision making in project management is not down to whether you have “it” or not, but rather how you approach the decision and analyse the information that you have. Here are some of the best tips to start making better decisions.
How to Make Better Decisions
Collect as much information as possible
Great decision making is all about having as much accurate information as possible about what it is exactly that you’re deciding on. Collecting the relevant facts means knowing what happened in the past and what is currently happening now, so the filing and labelling of relevant information is essential for finding what you need quickly.
Using effective, cloud-based project management software like Clarizen can make all of your project information easily accessible from wherever you happen to be.
… but be prepared to make decisions with less
The Marine Corps teaches that 70% of the information should be enough to make a decision. Not that you should rush into something, but if speed is essential, as it would be in a crisis situation, then you have to be capable of working with what you have. Especially try to apply this when delays or finding that extra 30% will cost more than taking the bad decision in any case.
Use an effective predictive model
Decisions are all about trying to predict the consequences of something in the future, thus it’s impossible to know what the actual outcome will be. The best you can hope for is that by using the data at hand, combined with a consistent predictive model, you will be making the most informed choice. Using systems, such as the Monte Carlo model or even ‘deep learning’ through artificial intelligence, can help you to make consistent and reasonably accurate predictions about what the future holds (or at least ought to).
Don’t cling on to lost causes
Sentimentality for non-sentient things is not necessarily a bad human trait; you hang on to that old polaroid of your high school class even though you have a digital version; you’re sad to upgrade your car because of all the memories you shared with that particular object. It’s not, however, necessarily a good thing when it comes to decision-making. A task, like designing a feature for an app, might have five weeks to go and you can already see it should be cut, but because the team have invested five weeks on it already, you’re loath to toss it. Sometimes it can be good to remember that these things don’t have feelings, if they have to go, they have to go, and you’re not ruining anyone’s Christmas by doing so.