Good Money After Bad

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  • If the decision turns out to be less than ideal, don't be surprised if people who opposed it loudly proclaim that they voted against it. Unanimity is a variation on voting in which the presence of any dissenting votes means that a decision is not made. All participants must be in lockstep. 
  • Consensus: Consensus does not mean that everyone involved with the decision fully supports the decision. It means they can all live with it, that their major concerns have been addressed. Some organizations are so driven to achieve agreement that they become paralyzed, unable to make a decision unless anyone who is affected by any part of the decision is 100 percent okay with every aspect of the outcome. While it's great if we all agree, sometimes the team has to move ahead despite the lingering misgivings of certain participants. If the team deadlocks, they can negotiate further or invoke a secondary decision rule, such as having the decision leader make the choice. 
  • Delegation: In some situations, the decision leader gives a single individual the authority to resolve an issue. This accelerates the decision-making process and can work well if the delegate is trusted by the other stakeholders and has the right knowledge, experience, and judgment. 
  • Decision Leader Decides: The designated leader of the decision-making team makes the call, either with or without discussion with other participants. Gathering input from others, such as a list from the QA manager of risks arising from premature release, enhances the commitment the other stakeholders have in the outcome. Even if they don't agree with their decision, they know their input was considered.

Your Turn
To get started with making better project decisions, list the major decision points on your project, such as baselining a requirements specification, funding continued development, passing a status gate or major milestone, deciding whether to ship, and accepting the product. For each, identify your project's decision-makers and the other people who provide input that helps the decision-makers make good choices. Describe the decision-making process or the decision rule for each of these situations.

Now, reflect on some recent decisions that the team made. Were the right people involved? Did they consider the available data and apply the decision rule as intended? In retrospect, were they good decisions? If not, why not? Did the decisions help the project succeed or merely prolong its stay on life support? Evaluating how your team makes decisions will help ensure that the right people make the best choices to keep your organization from throwing good money after bad.

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