We are big proponents of decentralized decision-making for project teams, meaning the project team is responsible for making key project decisions (e.g. continuing or killing a project), rather than always deferring decisions to senior management.
Sometimes the project team can make better decisions than senior management because they are closer to the details of the project. In order for the team to make good quality decisions it is imperative that the team has clearly stated parameters that are determined by senior management at the onset of and throughout the project. These parameters typically include objectives, timelines, resources and budgets, and define the extent of the team’s decision-making authority.
Waiting for a monthly gate meeting to kill or continue a project can get in the way of speed, allocation of resources and capturing opportunities. In some cases, it makes sense to make centralized decisions with senior management when you need to allocate centralized resources.
We find that some project team members have a difficult time killing their own projects. It is helpful to have an external member of the team (preferably a senior fellow), that can attend these meetings to ensure that decisions are objective and help establish project direction.
Adaptability and the ability to react quickly is paramount to successful product development. It is important to get your teams organized to make good quality decisions, starting with clearly stated goals and parameters… trust your team to make the right decisions…this is when expertise trumps authority.