Myth 31: I Don’t Have to Make the Difficult Choices


Managers Make Difficult Choices
Managers make the difficult choices in the organization because they have the financial responsibility to do so. If they decide to share that responsibility, then the teams might make those choices. But saying, “Don’t bring me a problem, bring me a solution” isn’t helpful.

In this case, Peter thought about what Bob would want to know: What was the relative cost of the Technology group versus its value? What was the Technology group already working on and delivering? How long would it take to find and integrate new people and start them on the new project? What were Peter’s alternatives for his projects? What was Peter’s group doing now and what could they be doing? Was there an alternative way to organize the people without creating bureaucracy?

In small companies, these problems seem magnified, because you never have enough people to work on the work. In larger organizations, you have problems, because you have layers and bureaucracy.

If you have to bring a difficult problem to your manager, consider what your manager needs to know about this problem, so your manager can make the best possible decision.

No matter what kind of a company you work for, if you have management, management exists to create a system where people can contribute to the best of their ability. That includes making the difficult choices.

Read more of Johanna's management myth columns here:

About the author

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman

Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” helps organizational leaders see problems and risks in their product development. She helps them recognize potential “gotchas,” seize opportunities, and remove impediments. Johanna was the Agile 2009 conference chair. She is the technical editor for Agile Connection and the author of these books:

  • Manage Your Job Search
  • Hiring Geeks That Fit
  • Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects
  • The 2008 Jolt Productivity award-winning Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management
  • Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management
  • Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People

Johanna is working on a book about agile program management. She writes columns for and projectmanagementcom and blogs on her website,, as well on

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