Bah, humbug! That was the Badger’s reaction after flicking through the television news channels the other morning. The facts in the news were one thing, but the doom and complaint-laden analysis of interviewers and interviewees just emphasised that much should be taken with a pinch of salt! It wasn’t a good start to the day.
But then the Badger’s phone rang. It was a ‘first-time’ Project Manager seeking advice from someone with ‘independent wisdom’ on the type of project they were running. The Badger was flattered and pleased to help. The first-timer was under significant pressure to hit key delivery milestones in the coming few weeks. They admitted to being overwhelmed by the plethora of decisions they had to make and frustrated that delivery was at risk because of interminable, inconclusive discussions with their internal line masters.
It became clear that the first-timer felt that prior to every decision there needed to be discussions to achieve consensus. They were also fearful of making wrong decisions. Fortunately, they had the maturity to chat about their situation and take input from someone completely independent. The Badger simply conveyed the following four points:
- Decision making happens in all facets of life. No one makes the right decision 100% of the time, and so – to borrow from Franklin D Roosevelt’s 1933 US Presidential Inauguration address – the only thing you have to fear in making a decision is fear itself. Never prevaricate, make a decision.
- If you want to succeed as a Project Manager then recognise there’s a ‘Discuss, Decide, and Do’ cycle to everything you do, but exercise your authority and don’t allow the ‘Discuss’ element to overwhelm the timeline of this cycle.
- Be brave. Cut through barriers and dithering and make your mark. Show your team, your line management and the client that you have a ‘buck stops here’ mindset. If you can’t then delivery-focused Project Management may not be for you.
- There are always nay-sayers and grumblers, but most will never sit in your hot seat with your responsibilities. Spend more time preparing for the decisions of the future than listening to the opinions of others on the decisions of the past.
The first-timer went quiet for a moment and then asked ‘So what you’re really saying is that as Project manager I need to be single-minded, have a backbone, cut through the fog to make decisions, and realise that if I want my Project to deliver then it can’t be run as a democracy?’ Answer? Err, Yes, something like that!
When the call ended the Badger had an optimistic sense that something latent in the first-timer’s psyche had been liberated. Time will tell. The call also triggered the Badger to make a decision of his own – not to listen to the analysers and grumblers on television news. Because that’s the only way to start the day with optimism and an open mind…