Often during the completion of a project, a project manager is faced with choosing between two or more options. Sometimes this choice, regardless of planning or expertise or resources, has no definitive correct answer. Fear of picking the wrong choice can turn an otherwise competent project manager into a clueless, flip-flopping Starbucks patron that can’t decide between hot or cold.
It is easy to empathize with someone in this predicament. Failure is hard to swallow. If you’re trying to accomplish a worthwhile goal, tough decisions will need to be made, and some of these decisions will be incorrect.
What is the solution for escaping the labyrinth of indecision? Just stop it.
But seriously, there are a couple of different ways an indecisive project manager might proceed.
1. Continue with indecision
There are probably many more aspects of the project that can be researched in more depth. Maybe asking 15 other colleagues what they would do in your situation may give you the perfect answer. One could also create several more lists of pro’s and con’s. If you continue to put off making a tough decision, your project will continue to remain unfinished.
2. Half-heartedly try all of the options
Instead of gambling completely on a single option, there can be a delicious temptation to kinda sorta try all of the options without complete commitment. This ensures that you will never completely fail because something will almost definitely kinda sorta work. It will also ensure that you will end up with a lower quality product.
3. Risk failure, then succeed or recover
If all of your options are comparable, then you’re not going to be able to minimize your risk of failure. You might as well make a choice and then live with the consequences. The guys at Freakonomics have a great podcast on failing quickly. The premise is that after you’ve researched and planned, you need to be able to come to grips with the possibility of making the wrong choice. If you are going to make the wrong choice, you may as well make it sooner before later. Quickly failing speeds up process of finding the actual correct choice. Hopefully you make the correct decision on the first try. If not, there are ways to recover and try again. These will be covered in an upcoming blog.