During the recent financial crisis, many people asked how such well-educated and highly trained traders, analysts, and brokers could have made such awful decisions. After all, they were the “best and the brightest”—often recruited from the best schools where they majored in difficult and sometimes incomprehensible subjects and still graduated at the top of their classes. They were brilliant, so how could they have been so wrong? What happened?
The quality of judgment is strongly tied to how one chooses what knowledge to use in particular circumstances. Judgment is very much a mix of knowledge, context, and circumstances.
With the kickoff of every project springs hope eternal. Surely, this will be the project that goes brilliantly. In fact, Gartner and author Bob Lewis demonstrate the 'normal' flow of a project with their research.
The humbling truth is while working on a project, you will experience a gap between what is happening and what you'd like to have happen. This is a nice way to say you will be frustrated. However, you have a choice of whether it will be the frustration of an oppressed victim or the frustration of an elite athlete growing better skills. Faulty Mental Models from the Project Manager:
- This project will turn out perfectly.
Cost: Disappointment drives poor decisions which create rework.
- If the project has troubles it is because I'm inadequate.
Cost: Disappointment drives poor decisions which create rework. (sound familiar?)
- It is obvious what I want from this project.
Cost: The project will deliver something that does not meet my needs.
- If the project has troubles it is because the PM is inadequate (because it can't be me).
Cost: Victims get fired.
A chance at project success requires:
- A business outcome that merits the investment
- At least one business exec who wants it enough to take risks
- ...and has the authority to provide time, budget and staff
- ...and will approve it when it is finished
- All stakeholders have to agree who decides what (governance)