Who makes decisions in your project management team? Do you have a dictator, a group of decision-makers, or does eveyrone on the project participate in the decisions?

Democratic project teams: the quicksand trap

Taking everybody's opinion into account is a great idea, it opens up new avenues of thinking. It's good for creativity and solving problems. However, if decisions are put to a vote, there is always the risk of taking the wrong decision, because not everyone in the group has a 360-degree view of the problem. For example, if the team is composed of a majority of developers and only one person who represents the interests of the clients, should the client representative's vote weight heavier in the balance?

Another issue with democratic decision-making is the quicksand effect: discussions can end in a stalemate. Where does the team go from there?

Autocracy: distribute blame, dilute merit

This is project management by committee, where only a select few take the decisions, not the whole team. While this decision-making style can be more proactive than a democratic style, it is style vulnerable to stalling.

An advantage of autocratic ruling is that the decision committee usually includes all stakeholders, so decisions are taken with all the facts in hand, and everyone usually understands them. However, it has the disadvantage of distributing blame, so bad decisions are less traceable; and diluting merit, so good ones are not traceable either.

Dictatorship: I leader, You team 

Dictatorship is as great (or as bad) as the dictator. When the project lead knows how to listen to her team and accepts suggestions, she can be quick and effective, taking important decisions when they are needed and keeping the project going smoothly. Unfortunately, when the project leader is a certified —hole, she can turn any project into a miserable failure.

With dictators, there is always the risk of more distance between the leader and her team. If she spends too much time being a leader and not enough time being part of a team, it may affect the cooperation that she gets from her team.

It all comes down to the humans

Regardless of the decision-making style your organization privileges,  they are as good (or as bad) as the humans taking them.

At AceProject, our style is democratic, with our benevolent dictator having the last word 🙂