Project Management

Dangerous Decisions

Eric Morfin

Thorough project planning and software wizardry cannot undo the effects of poor decision-making. But many decisions are made in the shadows of a project and escape notice until it is too late. Here is an approach to controlling the risk posed by poor decisions on your project.

Project managers spend significant time thinking about risk on their projects. Much of this thought is directed toward tasks that are on the critical path, new to the project team, or have not been completed well in the past. Much of the risk analysis is directed toward three key measures of project success: schedule, cost and compliance. Will the task be completed on time and within budget? Will the output comply with requirements? There is another more insidious type of risk, however, that is responsible for some spectacular project failures but is little mentioned in books, standards or training classes. It is the risk generated by low quality decision-making.

Everyone can drum up examples of bad decisions and their disastrous consequences. While they deserve attention so that we may benefit from the lessons learned, most of the damage caused by poor decisions on projects is undetected. It is akin to death by a thousand cuts. Lessons are rarely learned from these failures, so the mistakes are destined to be repeated.

There is a reason why well-scoped projects with specific and …


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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example."

- Mark Twain