Handling contradictions is one of the challenges of our work as project managers.
As a Project Manager, you need to be able to make decisions, even when you are uncertain about the situation. Your first inclination will be to seek out the clarity that will make your decisions obvious.
Unfortunately, not all decisions are based on obvious competing choices: yes or no, more or less, stop or go, in or out? And even when they are, neither choice is likely to be 100 percent ideal, or completely wrong.
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Two researchers called Jacob Lomranz and Yael Benyamini have come up with a name for the ability to cope well with uncertainty. They call it ‘aintegration’. People who score highly in their test for aintegration are better at handling doubt and contradictions.
I suspect that people who score lower on measures of aintegration will find complex projects more challenging than those with higher scores. After testing hundreds of people, they have started to see patterns of who is likely to score higher. These are people who are:
Clearly, I am not saying the best Project Managers are middle-aged divorcees with two degrees and no faith. There is far more to Project Management than this.
What I do think is that we all need to seek out and expose the contradictions and complexities of a situation. This may make you uncomfortable. But the discipline of considering and weighing opposing views will lead to better decisions.
To be a good Project Manager, you cannot try to boil down every choice into simple terms too soon. If you do, you’ll miss the details that can often point to the best resolutions.
And this follow-up article, ‘Rapid Decision Making in Projects: How to Get it Right’
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Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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