Making Decisions Count

Decision-making is a necessary skill for every project manager to have, but how exactly should you make decisions?  Of course, Copper can’t be the angel on your left shoulder whispering in your ear all day, but maybe you can take some of this advice to heart.

Be confident.  You have the project management experience, the knowledge you studied so much to aquire, the skills you took so many tests for, and the resources to make the decision.  Even if you feel like you don’t, you do.  Even if this is the first time you’ve encountered this type of problem in your work, decisions you’ve made in the past on seemingly unrelated issues can act as signposts toward the right path to take now.  Besides, when has fear or anxiety ever produced a positive result?  Don’t let negative thoughts take over.  This is the time to act positive.

Look back on tough calls you’ve had to make before, whether professionally or in your personal life.  What did you do?  How did you decide?  What did you get wrong and how could you have been better?  Don’t beat yourself up over poor past decisions, but it is a good idea to analyze them so you don’t repeat your mistakes.

Consider all options.  Try not to assume anything about your situation.  Take a look at other methodologies.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an Agile project manager.  If the critical chain methodology more suits the project, you’ll need to wear another hat.  Don’t limit yourself;  that may only make things more difficult for you later on.

Ask for help.  There’s no shame in visiting a fellow project manager whose opinion and judgement you trust for another perspective on your situation.

If there is time to make the decision, use it, but use it wisely.  This does not mean procrastinate.  Here’s an example:  Say you have five days to make a very important decision.  You could potentially use four of those days looking back on past decisions, considering all your options, and asking your mentor for advice, then making a knowledgeable decision on the fifth day with all that information in mind.  Don’t get me wrong, that sounds like a great idea, but let’s look at another way of doing things….

You make a decision the very first day.  You confidently decide that Option A is better than Option B.  You don’t tell anyone.  Not a soul.  You keep your confident Option A to yourself.  Then the next four days you spend trying to find Option C and D and E, trying to prove how Option A could possibly go wrong, and if the cons of Option A trump those of Options B through E.  Maybe you end up going with Option A on the fifth day, or maybe through effort and reverse engineering you found a better option.  Either way, you made your decision quickly and you weren’t scrambling for an answer on the day it was due.  Win-win, right?

Lastly, no one can foresee every problem.  Sometimes, no matter what we choose, no matter how much we research and prepare to make decisions, we choose wrong.  That’s okay.  Bounce back!

Thursday we’ll let you know exactly how you can use Copper Project Management Software to help you make better decisions.  Pick up your free trial today!

Sara Border is a blogger for Copper and that was probably the best decision she’s made in her writing career thus far.