Advanced Topic Seminar

Frank Parth, CEO

January 28, 2017 Vanguard University Campus, Costa Mesa

The January 2017 Advanced Topic Seminar (ATS), “Critical Decision – Making” was presented by Frank Parth CEO, Project Auditors LLC
Frank started his topic with Decision Making lies at the heart of everything a project manager does like PM taking decisions on make and buy etc.
Frank gave a nice examples of Impact of Tools on Schedules.

Frank classified the Decision-Making Environments as three parts, Decision-making under certainty, Decision-making under risk, and Decision-making under uncertainty
Frank says Classical (Rational) Model of Decision Making is a model that assumes managers have completely accurate information and make purely rational decisions.
Major points of “Rational Decision-Making Model” are
Identify the problem, Generate all possible solutions, Generate objective criteria, Select the best option, Implement the solution, and Monitor the results.

He has given several points on Assumptions of Rational Model like the problem is clear and unambiguous, objectives are known and agreed to by everyone, everyone works in the best interest of organization, and the major assumption would be decisions will be implemented willingly and supported by all stakeholders. Moreover the technical decisions are most likely to be made using a rational approach.
Frank have given several examples of Drawbacks or Rational Model like data may be so badly presented that a decision is not obvious.

Assumptions were explained with a great example of Fermi’s assumptions and solutions to find the result. Involved all the participants and gave an opportunity for discussions and participation by all participants.

Neurological research have to do with decision making.

Causes of Error in Decision-Making

There are well-documented common flaws that cause us to make less-than-optimal decisions. These are often cited as:

Brain Overload

• Errors in logic

Bad assumptions

• Mistaking the symptom for the problem

Unreliable memories


Kahneman: “… busy System 1 carries out fast thinking, while              sluggish System 2 handles slow thinking.”

Frank gave the best causes of error in Decision- Making, with more emphasis on Memory Biases.

Map the Decision Parameters is simple kind of understanding and make decisions faster by knowing the issue areas.

• Complexity of the decision

• Relevant experience of the decision maker

• Speed of the decision

• Completeness of available information

• Accuracy and objectivity of available information

• Understanding of the short-term impacts of the decision

• Understanding of the long-term impacts of the decision

• Stakeholder support of implementation

Overload – Impact of Multi-Tasking

Harvard Business Review blog, March 14, 2012

– “… when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.”

American Psychological Association, 2012

– “The inability to focus for even 10 minutes on any one thing at a time may be costing you 20 – 40 percent in terms of efficiency and productivity.”

Training & Development Magazine, April 2013

– “Multi-tasking is not effective and costs an estimated $650 billion because employees spend 1/3 of their time interrupting existing tasks to continue later with the same tasks.”

Contributed by

Ramamohan Lankalapalli PMP