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7- MakeInformedChoices

"Make The Best of the curious choices life brings you."

My Seventh Ethical Responsibility of 'Project' Work insists upon my Making Informed Choices. This one might require a bit more explaining than any of the other Responsibilities because it's subtle and tricky. Enjoining anyone to make only informed choices seems like a double binding insistence because how could anyone possibly determine that they were properly informed at any choice point? Choices, like so much in 'project' work, seem to come at inconvenient and inconveniencing times, insisting upon a snappy response, the kind that generally obviates the ability to fully consider alternatives. Only scant information seems available and a decision needs to be taken. What kind of informed choice could that situation produce? The answer is: the usual kind.

Almost nothing decided in the course of any 'project' benefits from full discovery. Partial pictures produce fragmented understandings which unavoidably generate crappy options from which to choose.
The worst, and by far not the least common, are the Damned Whatever You Do double binding choices which easily leave one feeling victimized. Sure, you'll choose, dammit, but you won't like it and you might feel tempted to blame someone else or some situation to deflect ownership and responsibility. My Seventh Ethical Responsibility encourages me to own the choices I make, as if they were fully-informed when I know damned well that they were not. The alternatives check me out and distance me from my presence there. I expect that I'll make a few, perhaps many more than a few, crappy choices, but they were choices and I made them, of this I remain fully informed and so more fully engaged. I can always choose again, and will.

In the 'project' life, I have the clear choice of experiencing one damned thing after another or the same damned thing over and over again, and I get to choose which universe I inhabit. I could choose to become the endless victim of unfortunate circumstance, burdened until over-burdened by a cruelly indifferent fate, except I don't believe in fate. I believe in choice. I believe that it's all choice, even when, perhaps especially when, it might too easily seem like fate's in charge. If fate's in charge, nobody's in charge, and I believe that everyone's in charge of their own choices, even of the forced choices they feel coerced into making. Nothing works otherwise.

Command and control seems like a joke. People do not obey, they interpret before complying, if they comply at all. Adults are especially resistant to being told what to do and how to do it. Some 'projects' seem determined to infantilize every contributor, to produce detailed instructions so nobody screws up, though providing detailed directions seems itself a colossal screw up. People thrive on choice, on the small latitudes that insist upon them deciding for themselves, upon choice. 'Project' managers orchestrate efforts comprised of people contributing skills the PM has no understanding of. No PM is master of all the trades essential for achieving their project's objectives, and even if they were, they'd find no leverage in choosing for any contributor. 'Projects' are at root simply choices. Better, I think, if everyone engaged understands this rather fine and subtle point.

I end my book The Blind Men and the Elephant with a poem, lyrics to a song I wrote one sweltering summer afternoon nearly thirty years ago, a piece I labeled Make The Best:

Make The Best
of the curious choices life brings you.
You know they won't always rhyme
and they won't always leave a reason behind them,
'cause this is a sloppy opera and a stupid ballet,
and if it isn't for the best
at least it is forever. …

Make The Best of the curious choices life brings you. Understand that however stilted the conditions under which a choice needs making, it's still a choice. Remain steadfastly well-informed about this single aspect of 'project' work, and that it's you making the choice. Own your work, however compromised it might seem. Proceed. I earlier proposed that flow, simple momentum, is sacred to every project. Without flow, progress cannot occur, and choosing encourages flow, which makes choice a sacrament of every 'project.' Decide and move on to keep moving on. Choose then choose again. Make The Best.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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