Questions about a decision made during the course of a project can arise at any time. These questions can be prompted by new information that raises doubts about decisions made previously. Documentation is the key to being able to sum up the inputs and the timeline. By capturing information regarding what resource provided what information, and when, you can quickly provide a summary of events for senior management. Without such documentation the project manager can find themselves the subject of the investigation, rather than in a position to help provide factual and detail information for the investigation.
7.6 Billion years from now, science tells us that one of two outcomes is likely as a result of our sun becoming a Red Giant. Either 1) Our sun will expand past the orbit of the Earth, engulfing the Earth in a fiery embrace that will kill off all life on the planet, or 2) due to the dramatically decreased gravitational pull of this new Red Giant version of our sun, the Earth will spin off into the cosmos and, deprived of the warmth of our Yellow sun, become a floating ice cube, again, killing of all life on the planet. (Appell, 2008)
7.6 Billion years is quite a long time from now, but what happens if we find out that the scientists made a mistake? What if it turned out to be 7.5 Billion years instead of 7.6 Billion? Any resource that wasn’t used in moving us off this one planet would be called into question by the generation that suddenly found their time was up.
Today’s good choice can easily become tomorrow’s bad choice based simply and easily upon the acquisition of new information, or a change in circumstance
The scenario above is of course an extreme example of how a situation can change, but the point is, everything is subject to change. Financial, Political, Merger, Reduction in Force, Divestiture, New Technology, Promotion, Demotion, and any other number of changes to the business landscape can result in a review of previously agreed upon decisions. How many of us have been asked to account for decisions and actions that were made on a project that ended only
6 months ago? 12 months ago? How many of us have been asked to review decisions that were made in an earlier stage of the current project?
Every project manager should expect to be asked to justify decisions they have made.
It may not necessarily be because you have made a mistake. It could be because new information has been added to the equation or even because a more senior member of management who is not as familiar with your project is simply asking questions about the project and its status. In my tenure I’ve seen Project Managers lose career momentum, and even lose their positions within the organization, not necessarily because they made poor decisions but because when the time came to justify their decisions they were unable to fully articulate the thought-processes they used and the inputs they had at their disposal at that time. The impact to their career momentum can then depend on the gap between the outcome of the previous decision and the current view of that decision. What happens next after you get called to the carpet is a product of:
1) How badly that past decision is viewed in light of the new information,
2) How well you are able to call forth the inputs used at that time, and
3) How different those inputs are from the new inputs.
- Quote paper
- Robert Barger (Author), 2015, The Law of Change, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/310097