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Keeping Head and Heart Apart in Decision-Making - Easier Said Than Done

Making the statement "keep your head and heart separate while taking any major decision" sounds simple, but it’s not always easy to achieve, especially when it involves people. So, what do we do when we can't fully separate our emotions from the decision-making process? Is there a next best approach? Based on my experience as a Project Manager for a manufacturing company, I can say yes.


Allow me to share one of those experiences when I was a co-Project Manager for the company's largest-ever project to automate the manual product tracking and inventory control process. We were almost a year into the project and about to begin User Acceptance Testing when a major setback occurred.


Our lead for this critical phase, who had been instrumental in the project's success so far, faced a personal tragedy that required them to take an extended leave well beyond the project's completion timeline. This person had high hopes of achieving a successful completion and a potential career breakthrough. The situation now left them feeling job insecurity, adding to their existing pain and stress.


As Project Managers, my co-project manager and I had to make a tough decision. We saw two options: either put the project on hold indefinitely (the emotional response) or replace the resource and proceed without them (the logical response). Putting the project on hold would be extremely costly, both financially and in terms of time. On the other hand, replacing the dedicated resource seemed unkind and ruthless, given their commitment to the project.


However, we knew there had to be a third option. So, we sat down with the leadership and agreed to give the situation one week (after much consideration) to reevaluate the resource's situation. The project was temporarily put on hold, allowing the resource to focus on their family without worrying about work.


During this time, we found a creative solution: we set up an office in the resource's home and had them mentor another team member who could be physically present at work. This approach had two significant benefits: the resource received full credit for their deliverable, and it provided a welcome distraction from their personal situation, facilitating the healing process.

The project was completed on time, and the resource's career was not jeopardized. Upon their return to the office, they were rewarded with a well-deserved promotion.

This example demonstrates that in challenging decision-making situations, it's essential to consider both the emotional and logical aspects. It doesn't always have to be a complete head-versus-heart scenario; sometimes, a balanced approach can lead to innovative solutions. We have more insights to share on the decision-making process, and we welcome your thoughts on this topic.

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