When Weighing the Pros and Cons Fails

Most of the time I make decisions by weighing out the known pros and cons with the hope that one side will weigh in much stronger.  When the winner is unclear, I have to take a different approach.  A decision making process I find highly effective in project management is to put myself in the shoes of the key stakeholders connected to the project.  I systematically think through what insight each of the invested parties can provide that I couldn’t otherwise see.  Here’s a few sample questions I’ve asked myself and a brief description of what I hoped that perspective might tell me.   

1. What is my gut response as a person who will stamp my name on the final product?  If I'm going to be associated with something, I want to be proud of the end result.  Does one of the options have a finer level of craftsmanship?

2. How would each option feel if I were a sales person conducting a demo?  Some factors might be revealed only during a high-stakes moment.  Would one of the options turn off potential customers right away?

3. How would I respond to each option if I were a decision-making customer?  Options that look the same on paper might vary greatly to the person who will use each one.  What would it feel like to use or experience each option?

4. Would my response change if I were a non-decision-making customer?  The decision-maker may be most concerned with price or durability while a recipient might be more concerned with features or ease of use.  How would each option feel if I were forced to use them?

Usually by the time I’ve walked in the shoes of the above groups, a winner becomes clear.  If not, I think of other shoes to try on.