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Project Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

Project Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

By Dr. Harold Kerzner
January 18, 2023

Most project managers appear to have a reasonably good understanding of what is meant by project problem-solving and decision-making. Unfortunately, there are significant differences between understanding the concepts and being able to apply them.

For several decades, project managers have managed mainly traditional projects that were initiated with well-defined requirements, a business case, and even a statement of work. Many of these projects were similar to previous projects such that the PMs could rely upon history to guide their problem-solving and decision-making efforts.

Project management has now evolved into a strategic corporate competency, rather than just another job description. PMs are now expected to manage strategic projects that could have a serious impact on the organization’s future. These projects include strategic initiatives, innovation, R&D, creativity, and design thinking. These projects may begin with just an idea and the scope of work, as well as other requirements that are continuously updated as the work progresses.

These new types of projects are bringing to the surface challenges that project teams must resolve concerning problem-solving and decision-making. Some of the challenges include:

  • Most PMs have never been trained in effective problem-solving and decision-making practices.
  • The new types of projects may require several meetings for proper problem identification and decision-making.
  • Many of the issues require involvement from people outside of the project team members.
  • Information needed for problem identification and development of alternative solutions may reside with people not directly affiliated with the project.
  • There are several different techniques that can be used to select the best alternative for a solution.
  • Team members may be reluctant to accept decisions made by artificial intelligence systems.
  • Decisions are expected to be made in the long-term best interest of the organization rather than a focus on short-term profitability.
  • Because of the length of some of these projects, the problems and solutions are likely to change over the life of the projects.
  • The impact of the VUCA, (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) environment has a much greater impact on problem-solving and decision-making than on traditional projects.
  • Newly created flexible methodologies, such as Agile and Scrum, may require different techniques for problem-solving and decision-making.

As can be seen from the “challenges”, the new types of projects have identified the need for better ways to handle project problem-solving and decision-making.

IIL and I teamed up with John Wiley Publishers to publish a book entitled Project-Based Problem-Solving and Decision-Making. The book addresses all the challenges described above, and more.

To receive more information on this topic and get your added to the list for possible purchase when released, contact:

Lori Milhaven, CSPO
Executive Vice President, Strategic Programs
International Institute for Learning
Tel: 212-515-5121

About the Author

Dr. Harold D. Kerzner, Ph.D., is Senior Executive Director at the International Institute for Learning, Inc., a global learning solutions company that conducts training for leading corporations throughout the world. 

He is a globally recognized expert on project, program, and portfolio management, total quality management, and strategic planning. Dr. Kerzner is the author of bestselling books and texts, including the acclaimed Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling, Thirteenth Edition. His latest book, Project Management Next Generation: The Pillars for Organizational Excellence, co-authored with Dr. Al Zeitoun and Dr. Ricardo Viana Vargas, delivers an expert discussion on project management implementation of all kinds.

Browse IIL’s Project Management Courses here!

Check out IIL’s bookstore featuring all of Dr. Kerzner’s best-selling novels here!

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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