Chapter 8. How to make good decisions

In the process of writing this book, I interviewed more than a dozen project managers. One question I asked was how to make good decisions. Their answers included weighing options, defining criteria, and seeking out different ways to resolve the situation at hand. But when I asked how many decisions they made a day, and how often they used the techniques they named, they often realized something was wrong. Many admitted (after looking over their shoulders to make sure no one else would hear) that it was impossible to always follow any formalized process for making decisions, given the limited time they had and the number of things they needed to get done.

Instead, they conceded that they often work on intuition, reasonable assumption, and a quick projection of the immediate issue against the larger goals of the project. If they can, they will reapply logic used for previous decisions or make use of experience from previous projects. But as reasonable as this answer sounded every time I heard it, the project manager and I found something disappointing about it. I think we all want to believe that all decisions are made with care and consideration, even though we know it can’t possibly be so. There is limited time and limited brain power, and not all decisions can be made equally well.

Failures in decision making occur most often not because the decision maker was weak-minded or inexperienced, but simply because he invested his energy poorly ...

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