One thing is for sure, there is always more to do on any project than there is time or money to do it. And as much as people hate to choose between things that seem equally vital, if everything is top priority, nothing is. Project teams used to ask for a list of “musts” and “wants” of the features required in a product, for example. Now EVERYTHING is a MUST! The “triple constraint” of schedule, cost and features used to mean that the team would maximize one and optimize another while letting the third float. Now teams are asked to deliver good, fast AND cheap all at once, and pull off myriad miracles along the way. Many executives refuse to prioritize the “critical few” from the “important many”. Mostly they look mystified and say “They’re all important.” No kidding!The real casualty of this behavior is the loss of the opportunity to leverage the discernment of each individual in the myriad decisions that they’ll make during the project. When executives and other project stakeholders won’t prioritize quality, features, schedule, cost, and other vital success criteria they deny the individuals on the team the guidelines that they need to align their decisions with overall project goals. Rest assured, without guidance on the relative priority of the goals of the proejct, like on schedule, high quality, cool features, within budget, each individual will be making decisions according to their own assumptions and beliegs about the priorities. No one wants to choose between their heart, their lungs and their kidneys, but when push comes to shove, the heart is #1 because you die within a minute, lungs are #2 because you can live 3 minutes without them, and kidneys are #3 because you can go on dialysis. Of course, if the success criteria aren’t clear, then putting those criteria in priority order won’t be an easy matter, so you have to start by knowing what you are trying to achieve. Unfortunately many teams aren’t even clear about that, so it’s no wonder they can’t make tough choices among competing priorities. How do you get your sponsor and the execs to make those tough choices?