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What are some good ways to deal with the management putting off taking decision since it's not perfect?

There's an implementation decision to be done. I've prepared all possible information to enable senior stakeholders to take an informed decision: they all agree we should implement the tool but not on how we should do that. I proposed 2 possible ways to go, both very well researched. Each has advantages and disadvantages, which I described in detail. Still on the bottomline one seems much better than the other.

We've discussed it several time, in detail. The project needs to be completed this year and every day lost because of the lack of decision is a day that makes the timeline more risky. If we wait any longer we won't be able to complete it this year.

And yet, constantly new information gets requested. Information that's simply not important. We've clarified all the important and less important topics, now it's discussing such tiny details that shouldn't play any role in the decision.

And yet, I'm constantly asked why Option B doesn't have some of the advantages of Option A.

I'm asked to consult with new stakeholders, who don't have an stakes in the project. Even worse: people who have no idea express their "opinions" how this should be done and the decision-makers consider their opinions legitimate.

This is a kind of a scope creep.

The new details and people consulted won't change the overall message or the result of comparison, they only make me spend unpaid overtime in the office. The topic is very well researched.

And yet when I'm telling just that to the most senior person, I hear: "I know, but let us consult these 5 people and get this data and we're done". We never are.


I've actually learnt that the main decision maker - my boss - wants another team to be responsible for this project. Obviously, secretive as he is, he didn't tell that openly, instead sabotaging the project to be able to say "we need help from Team B". I've wasted so much time.

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  • You are certainly a well meaning employee, and you have done your part. The rest is your boss' problem.
    – Rickka
    Sep 24, 2020 at 19:50
  • Just concentrate on the work you can do and don't worry about their decision until it has been made.
    – sf02
    Sep 24, 2020 at 19:52
  • Presumably you boss has given you this task. You are effectively blocked. Can't you just explain this situation to your boss? They can then escalate or get it sorted with their peers. Sep 25, 2020 at 0:36
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    @GregoryCurrie, my boss is the worst one when it comes to avoiding this decision.
    – BigMadAndy
    Sep 25, 2020 at 5:53
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    @BigMadAndy: Re your edit: That sucks, sorry to hear that. The next time, you might want to reconsider spending "unpaid overtime" for that boss...
    – Heinzi
    Sep 25, 2020 at 14:03

2 Answers 2

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In sales, they have a saying: "Don't confuse your customers!" In this case, management is your customer, and you have confused them with technical stuff. Let's look at your problem in detail:


(Highlighting by me)

There's an implementation decision to be done. I've prepared all possible information to enable senior stakeholders to take an informed decision:

You have asked non-technical people to take over responsibility for making a technical decision.

Since it's their resposibility now, their main goal is to cover their asses and make sure that they don't make the wrong decision. Problem: They are not technical experts (and have no desire to become technical experts), so they need external advice. Obviously, from other people than you, because if you were sure about which decision to make, you wouldn't have delegated the decision back up to them. They ask for information which is "simply not important", because, well, they are not technical experts and cannot distinguish important from non-important information.

You are the technical expert, it's your job to make implementation decisions. If, for reasons of hierarchy, you are not allowed to make those decisions, it's your job to give a clear and unambiguous recommendation on which decision to take. This will allow your superiors to make a quick decision (by saying "yes"), because they can shift the blame to you if it was the wrong one.

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    Not really, I meant senior technical stakeholders: you know my boss, some senior IT folks. They aren't technical experts (it's a pity, really) but they are responsible for taking these decisions. I'm not able to select my approvers freely.
    – BigMadAndy
    Sep 25, 2020 at 13:33
  • @BigMadAndy: I see, thanks for the clarification. In that case, I guess only the "clear and unambiguous recommendation" advice from my answer remains relevant to you. If you already did that and they still ignore your warnings about missing deadlines due to their inaction, well, I think you've done all you could. Make sure you have that warning in writing, to cover your ass when the project misses its deadline (it's not a "get out of jail free card", but it's better than nothing).
    – Heinzi
    Sep 25, 2020 at 13:55
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    Sometimes there is no clear and unambigious decision because both options have upsides and downsides. Consider the common question of whether to purchase existing software or build a solution in-house. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and someone high up in the company has to decide whether they'd rather spend a lot of money on licensing or build a custom solution which will take longer.
    – Llewellyn
    Sep 25, 2020 at 18:59
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You're only analysing the symptoms. You need to solve the core issue first of which there are at least 2.

Firstly and most importantly you're not being trusted inasmuch as the information you're giving is repeatedly being questioned.

Secondly you're putting too much into this whole problem, you have already solved your portion. You should be at the stage where it's documented well enough that if anyone questions anything your manager should just pass them a bunch of paperwork and leave them to it. The only reason they're asking is because they can't be bothered reading it. If they ask you direct you refer them to your manager.

Lastly your strategy is weak and invites delay and questioning. It's always best in my view to go with a solution when tasked. Not 2 solutions, not a choice to make, no coin flipping. That invites people who have not done the hard yards and research to put themselves on stage doing a performance. So I always go with one solution and gloss over the alternatives just using them as examples of why my choice is the only one to look at.

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  • A lesson from consulting: You never present just one option. I always know which option I advocate for, but normally present 2-3. The 1-2 apart from the best one are just to show my favorite one is the best.
    – BigMadAndy
    Sep 25, 2020 at 13:31
  • Better to build a trust relationship where you don't need to. Then it avoids the problem you have right now.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 25, 2020 at 21:59

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