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Decision Making

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« Decision making: is it cone- or diamond-shaped? | Main | Change as a function of choice »


Dick Rowan

Joe, change control is not enough, but it is the best accommodation I can see for forgetful planning. I would love to hear your ideas on other external blueprints, what they might be and how they might work.

I think we would agree that individual beliefs and ingrained practices cannot be changed in near-time. They can, however, be over-ruled by new people with new beliefs and practices.

The most common external control on an organization's project plan is budget. Budget is easily corrupted by politicians or individual stakeholders. A change control process whose decision makers represent project outcomes--not just political or individual interests, and where payment is tied to performance, is the only way I have seen to conduct complex projects.

I don't think entrenched decision-makers generally resist such a process. The smart ones applaud it as a bite-by-bite way to get what they wanted in the first place, but had to compromise. Boston's Big Dig was initially budgeted at $2.6B by a smart group of planners and engineers, with extensive local and federal oversight. Fourteen years later the costs are pushing $15B. Each added dollar went through a logical and seemingly fair change control process. (Like Sen. Dirksen said, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.") Looking back now at the whole thing, it is a big fat corrupt mess.

What's a better way?

Joe Begalla

You say that a strong change control process will help offset our tendencies to forget what we know and ignore what we have learned. I agree, but ask, How does a company/organization institute a "strong change control process" when the resistance seems to come from the personal biases and expectations of the persons making the decisions? Is there an external blueprint that might be helpful, or are we faced with the formidable task of actually "changing" individual beliefs and ingrained practices?

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