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Getting to effective decisions

By Vance Breshears

Successful projects all involve many factors that lead to that success.

Some include good quality design, proper coordination, finding cost effective solutions, efficient execution and the ability to compensate for unforeseen challenges.  But the single greatest factor for the success of any project will be effective engagement of people in the decision making process.

Decisions take place constantly and are found at many different levels in the design process.  Low level decisions can frequently be made by an individual person who is involved in the project without input or scrutiny from any of the other team members. For some of these decisions there is often times an obvious choice.

So what happens when the decisions become more critical and will affect the project outcome?

For most projects, the success or failure of the end result is largely based on managing and meeting client expectations.  I know it’s hard to believe, but often the client’s expectations don’t match the reality of the situation or available project budget.  If that is the case, then one of two things need to happen, otherwise there will be problems. Did I say that loud enough? There WILL be problems. Either the expectations need to change or the budgets need to be appropriate for the expectations.  Sometimes there ends up being a combination of both as this alignment occurs.

So what is the best way to manage this people side of the process?  Information and communication! As champions for the project, I would suggest that there are several prerequisites to helping clients make better decisions.  These might include:

  • Gather appropriate data regarding the decision and introduce it early in the process.
  • Lead a process that allows all the decision makers to be in the room together either physically or virtually.
  • Start the discussion with the why.  Better decisions are made when there is a clear mission.
  • Create a structure where decisions are documented.

Through the years I have found that the success of most projects can be directly correlated to how well this process was managed.  The dynamics may be different and my ability to influence varied, but engaging stake-holders and communicating the elements that impact expectations leads to effective decisions which leads to great results!

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