Category Archives: SuperPower

Using Agile Transformations to make decisions

Decisions are easy if you know why you are making them

If you play the role of project manager and you’re not skilled in having this type of trade-off conversation, you will likely hate your job over time – and maybe even implode. And that also sucks … for you, your team, your business leaders, and your candidates. The world needs good recruiting pros like you.

Making decisions

Good inputs lead to good outputs. So getting the right information and context before you make a big decision is critical. But this is where reality gets in the way of ideals. We often don’t have all of the stakeholder feedback we want and need to make a wonderfully well-educated, totally defensible decision. We don’t often have enough past data (ROI, metrics) to predict the future. We often don’t even know how receptive our end users will be to some of our planned deliverables — will it really solve the problem we think it will solve?

Some of us say screw it, and just dive into the deep end, not knowing what we’ll find — you know, the thrill-seeker types. And then there are the types who won’t make any decision without having 100% confidence that they’re making the right decision. They need a lot of validation – maybe too much buy-in and data. And then most of us are somewhere in between.

So, here’s the deal. There is no pause button in HR. Things often move whether we’re ready or not, with or without us. And — this is important — not deciding is deciding. Delaying decisions in a world where your deadline is relatively immovable (i.e. we need 20 new sales reps to launch this new market by March 1, or else we won’t hit our sales goal for 2013) will force you to make decisions … sometimes, bad decisions that impact quality, or cost you money you don’t have. Jason Warner and I co-led a recruiting leadership workshop, and when we debrief on group scenarios related to making trade-offs and big decisions, he usually says something like, “People will rarely remember if you blew your budget a year from now — they’ll remember whether you delivered quality on time, though.” I think that’s almost always the case, too.

When leading projects, we’re required — sometimes even forced — to make decisions early and often. I recall advice I got from a project management guru I worked with a few years ago. He said, “We can’t afford to have more meetings, to delay this any longer. If it’s generally correct, and not specifically wrong, we go with what we have.”

At the time I heard that, I was relieved … mostly because it meant we were actually going to get something done in this meeting, and not make this meeting (like many before it) about planning our agenda for our next meeting, or talking about talking about stuff. (That’s not a typo … sometimes we have meetings where we actually talk about future things we need to talk about for 30 minutes!) Meetings should be about decisions, and this guy was giving us permission to decide, to move ahead. Thank you.