Project managers make decisions on a daily basis.
Most are relatively unimportant; some are critical and will cause the project to be successful or to fail. So how does a project manager learn to make more good decisions than bad ones?
Research in the field of neurology has made it possible to measure different areas of brain activity during the process of making a decision, even when the differences in time are only microseconds apart. This has provided an important insight into how the human brain makes decisions.
The idea that “Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal” turns out to be very true.
When faced with the task of making a difficult decision, the brain uses simple, efficient rules, called heuristics, to make decisions. One of these rules, called the availability heuristic, is the tendency to make a decision based on how easy it is to recall similar decisions.
The availability heuristic is an unconscious process that operates on the notion that, “if you can think of it, it must be important.” In other words, how easily a similar decision can be called to mind determines our view of the decision we need to make now.
There are well-documented common flaws that cause us to make less-than-optimal decisions. One of the most common flaws is the tendency to make errors in logic.
A logical fallacy is an error of reasoning. When someone comes to a conclusion based on a bad piece of reasoning, he or she commits a fallacy, an error in logic. The conclusion may or may not be a good one, but the process of arriving at it is flawed and continued use of fallacious reasoning will lead to many more bad conclusions than good ones.
Decision making in a project context requires deductive logic far more often than inductive logic. Deductive arguments are supposed to be rational and logical.
Errors in logic do not only occur because our thinking processes are faulty. They can also occur when we are under a lot of stress and under time pressure.
The best approach to identifying that this is happening is to log every major decision, the assumptions you made when you made the decision, and the resulting long-term impacts of the decision. Comparing the actual results to what you thought they would be can help project managers identify any logical errors in the decision process.
Want to learn more? Tonex offers Decision Making Training for Project Managers, a 3-day course where participants learn the notions and philosophy behind decision-making as well as the process, tools, techniques, and strategies of management decision making. Moreover, you will be provided with the tips to influence the others’ decision-making and to stay away from the drawbacks of typical mistakes of decision making.
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