Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Executives tend to think of decision making as an event that happens at one moment in time.  But, a decision within an organization is a process. Do you have a good decision making process in your organization? Or, probably more importantly, within your team?

Many organizations are making decisions without fully understanding the data at their fingertips.  “Information reported on during a project’s life-cycle is not effectively analyzed against portfolio performance and consequently the impacts of decisions on the bottom line are often not fully understood,” states KPMG in their recent Project Management Survey.  

Here are some pointers to consider as you develop a stronger approach to decision making. Included are methods for making data from your Project Portfolio Management solution actionable.  These are ways you can integrate data into a transparent, inquiry-based decision process.

Abandon the “Advocacy Process”

Advocacy Process is the least productive mode of decision making.   Your team members are in a passionate contest presenting emotionally charged opinions on what they believe to be the best option.  Sometimes, groups within your organization will battle for their point of view or their portion of the budget. In a large organization, everyone wants to plant their flag into something they can call their own.  Conflict can arise and become personal in this destructive mode.

Embrace the “Inquiry Process”

The Inquiry Process is an approach to decision making in which you consider a variety of options through an open exchange of fact-based ideas. This will lead to an agreement on the best course of action.  (Rather than plundering ahead with a decision hard-earned in an emotional battle.) This is an idea-exchange method of decision making. Debate and conflict can be intense, but it is never personal.

How a PPM Solution Supports Inquiry Process

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) provides visibility and insight around the decisions you will make about projects in your organization.  Because it is in our nature as humans to become emotionally invested in our projects, we champion our projects and advocate for support without understanding the bottomline.  “I built this thing and it’s my baby!” is often the mindset in the in IT.

Before moving ahead with a project or reallocating resources to a project, you must be able to determine in an unbiased way the following: priority of the project, who is working on the project and whether or not the project is on track.  Here is more information on how our PPM solution enhances your understanding of vital project information:

PPM directly supports fact-based inquiry, which leads to Data Driven Decision (DDD) making.  

More Suggestions For Fact-Based Inquiry

If you are going to be the ultimate decision maker on a certain subject, remove yourself from deliberations.  Review your team’s findings and discussions later. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses discussed. Cyrus The Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, was said to have praised “diversity in counsel, unity in command.”  Consider your team’s input and count a PPM solution as part of your counsel.

Beware of confirmation bias – if someone on your team feels strongly about one solution over another, have them evaluate the strengths of the solution they view as weaker. “Presented with someone else’s argument, we’re quite adept at spotting the weaknesses. Almost invariably, the positions we’re blind about are our own,” says Elizabeth Kolbert in her fascinating article on the limitations of human reason in The New Yorker Magazine.

Explain Why You Made Your Decision

It will strengthen your rapport and your team’s solidarity to explain why you choose one option over another.  Do take the time to review how your decision differs from the views your team members may have presented. Reviewing data gathered from your PPM solution upholds the integrity of your decision.   

Consider the insight of James Guszcza, Chief Data Scientist for Deloitte Consulting LLP: “I’ve noticed that working with models…can make us more human. Letting the model do what computers are good at—processing hundreds of pieces of information, consistently, in a computationally efficient way, at any time of day without getting tired—frees up humans to tap into their creativity and empathy, and to spend more time understanding context and nuance.”

In other words, do not relinquish the human element of your decision; do support the decision with data.

Try better decisions, try Projectric.  

Try a demo or a trial, or read more about best practices for Project Portfolio Management in this comprehensive blog post/guide.  

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