Why You Should Start Embracing Strategic Decision-Making Over Meeting Individual Expectations

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”
- Charles Kettering

Published at: 28 November, 2023

Your project team has found itself in the midst of an incredibly frustrating experience. Despite investing significant time and effort, enduring over 12 rounds of revisions, you are still grappling with the challenge of securing stakeholder approval for our project. This ongoing struggle has left you feeling disheartened and uncertain about the path ahead.

Yet, despite the challenges, the team remains resilient. You draw strength from one another, supporting and encouraging each other to persevere. You hold onto the belief that our dedication and unwavering commitment to excellence will eventually break through the barriers and lead you to the long-awaited approval we seek.

Does all this sound familiar?

The Challenging Dynamics Between Project Teams And Stakeholders Expectations

The dynamics between a project team and stakeholders can pose challenges when it comes to decision-making processes. Here are some specific challenges:

  1. Differing Perspectives: Project teams and stakeholders may have diverse backgrounds, expertise, and perspectives, leading to conflicting viewpoints on important decisions. Balancing these perspectives and finding common ground can be a challenge, requiring effective communication and negotiation skills.
  2. Power Dynamics: Stakeholders often hold decision-making authority and may exert influence over the project team. Power imbalances can impact the team's ability to present alternative solutions or challenge stakeholder decisions.
  3. Decision Delays: Ineffective communication and decision-making processes can result in delays and bottlenecks. If stakeholders are not responsive or lack clear decision-making protocols, it can hinder progress and impact project timelines.
  4. Limited Information: Stakeholders may have limited access to project details or lack a comprehensive understanding of the team's challenges and constraints. This can lead to decisions that do not consider the full picture or that overlook critical aspects.
  5. Changing Requirements: Stakeholders may introduce changes or new requirements during the project, which can impact decision-making processes. These changes may require reassessment of priorities, resources, and timelines, leading to decision-making challenges for the project team.

Like many would suggest, to address these challenges, it is crucial to foster an environment of open communication, trust, and collaboration between the project team and stakeholders. Establishing clear decision-making frameworks, involving relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process, and facilitating effective information sharing can help align perspectives and streamline decision-making. And effective project management practices, such as regular progress updates and proactive stakeholder engagement, can contribute to more efficient and effective decision-making.

But in reality, that’s not what’s really happening. The nature of all these challenges is based on one and only one reason: you have been focusing on just answering to individual(s) expectations.

What’s Wrong With Answering to Stakeholder’s Expectation And What Should You Do Instead?

"Strategic decision-making serves as a well-crafted blueprint, providing teams with guidance on what actions to take and what to prioritize. It acts as an anchor, allowing us to measure success against aligned objectives and business goals."

It's important to strike a balance between addressing individual expectations and adhering to a well-formed strategy. While it's essential to understand and consider the unique needs and goals of each client or individual, solely focusing on individual expectations without a broader strategy can lead to several potential issues:

  1. Lack of Alignment: Individual expectations may vary and can sometimes conflict with each other. Without a well-formed strategy, it becomes challenging to align these expectations and ensure cohesive decision-making and progress towards common objectives.
  2. Inefficient Resource Allocation: Responding solely to individual expectations can result in scattered efforts and inefficient use of resources. A well-formed strategy enables you to allocate resources effectively, ensuring that they are directed towards achieving overarching goals rather than being scattered across individual requests.
  3. Short-term Focus: By solely catering to individual expectations, there is a risk of prioritizing short-term gains over long-term success. A well-formed strategy takes a holistic view and considers the bigger picture, enabling you to focus on sustainable growth and impactful outcomes.
  4. Missed Opportunities: A strategy helps identify potential opportunities that may not be immediately apparent. By solely responding to individual expectations, you may overlook these opportunities and limit the potential for innovation, growth, and success.

Rather than focusing on personal preferences like "red or green," we should shift our mindset to asking, "Does this decision align with our objectives?" This approach ensures that our choices are driven by strategic alignment rather than subjective preferences.

That being said, it's important to strike a balance by integrating individual expectations into the overall strategy. Effective consulting involves understanding individual needs and aligning them with the broader strategic direction. This can be achieved through active communication, collaboration, and a flexible approach that allows for customization within the framework of the strategy.

Ultimately, the goal is to find the right balance between addressing individual expectations and staying true to a well-formed strategy, ensuring that individual needs are met while driving towards long-term success.


Kelvin Lee

Co-founder, Product Lead & Technologist

Digital product consulting for over a decade. Almost religiously passionate to find simple ways to solve the most complex business problems.

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