Several factors contribute to making good project decisions:
Experience: Experience is usually associated with time spend within the industry/domain. But while a project manager gains invaluable wisdom over time, I am a firm believer that training with hands on simulations and role-play scenarios can fast track our ability to effectively tackle challenging situations.
Process: Process refers to the training--on the job and/or formal methods--that a project manager has internalized according to their personal strengths. When I approach or encounter difficult decisions, I typically:
• Identify the root problem by asking why multiple times
• Prioritize options with pros and cons
• Seek to learn from my decisions
Guiding principle(s): Guiding principle is the wisdom that project managers gain from understanding past mistakes. The principle that guides me as a project management professional is the 80/20 rule (Pareto's Law). The 80/20 rule is often observed in real life (or systems) to show that approximately 80% of the work seems to come from 20% of the sources.
When I am faced with 100 items on my to do list, I have a couple of options to tackle the workload:
• Spread my effort evenly across all 100 items and hope for the best (meet project deadline that is)
• Utilize the 80/20 rule--Prioritize and work on 20% tasks that when completed would bring the most value to my project.
In other fields such as software development, Pareto's Law is often applied to the case that 80% of the defects seem to originate from 20% of the software modules.
Keep in mind that this is approximation, yet a lot of empirical data seems to point to a variation between 10% to 30%, but the name 80/20 stuck as what we the project professionals refer to in today's world.
Courage: While everyone may know the right thing, it takes courage to actually follow through in the face of adversity.