Project managers help their organization make better decisions when they adapt their decision proposals to decision makers and don’t shy away from challenging the usual thought patterns.
In VELUX’ product development department, Project Managers enter the “shark tank” once a month on average. Here, they face a panel of decision makers from C-level and down who assess the progress of the managers’ development projects. The decision makers decide whether to proceed with the project (GO), whether more testing is needed (RE-CYCLE), or whether the project should be shut down (KILL). 5 days prior to the decision meeting, the panel receives a decision proposal from the project manager that shows data collection, results from tests, and the project manager’s recommendation.
The challenge with these proposals was that they didn’t serve their purpose all that well. The project managers are all engineers and they are experts at collecting and analyzing the necessary data for the proposal. They also had routine in writing the proposals with the help of templates. But yet, the decision makers were experiencing issues with the texts.
- Central messages and recommendations were drowning in a sea of technicalities and details
- The proposals were too long, resulting in the decision boards not reading them
- The proposals didn’t fit the immediate needs of the decision makers
- The project managers were not delivering their oral proposals in a conving manner
The solution we designed together
Together with department management we aimed at answering the following questions
- How do we structure the proposals better so the message is clear from the get-go?
- How do we utilize decisions already made as an active part of our argumentation?
- How do data and reservations/qualifications play into our argumentation?
- How do we answer critical questions convincingly?
Therefore, we designed a training process to accommodate these needs.
- Has been equipped with tools to optimize their decision meetings. Their proposals are shorter and they have identified who needs to be there, and who doesn’t.
- Can now lower their go-to-market time on innovative products when they focus on which problem the project solves and have the courage to kill bad projects.
- Has a clear path in moving from project management to project leadership
The project managers
- Have optimized their writing processes when writing decision proposals.
- Have improved their written communication by getting better at prioritizing the information included.
- Now write with a focus on what is critical for the decision makers to know to be able to make good decisions.