We’ve looked at ways to make a decision you can live with when no perfect solution exists (3-ways-to-make-a-decision-you-can-live-with) and warning signs that you’re on the path to making the wrong decision (4-warning-signs-youre-making-the-wrong-decision), but what can you do if you still end up selecting the wrong path? Below are some strategies to recover from a bad decision without destroying your prospects for ultimate success.

Admit your mistake. It might be painful and embarrassing—perhaps even costly—but this really is the first step back onto the right track. If it was your mistake, take ownership of it but don’t spend any energy on groveling. If it was someone else’s doing, you likely won’t benefit from placing blame so just let it go.


Ask for help. Look around you for supporters, from others in your Project Team to champions to end users. Soliciting the assistance of others will not only give you a wider perspective to craft a recovery plan, it’s often a good way to garner support for whatever path you choose going forward.


Reaffirm your objectives. We sometimes reach wrong decisions because we’ve lost sight of the goal, so take the time to ensure you and your stakeholders are all moving toward the same end point. Better to revise your objectives now than compound your existing problem with another incorrect solution.


Examine what went wrong. Again, blame isn’t the point. Instead, objectively review why the decision wasn’t the right one and where your project went off track. This saves time by eliminating the need to completely recreate the wheel—you can piggyback on the earlier work you did that was still headed in the right direction—and may give you ideas on how to resolve the issue with as little negative impact on your project as possible.

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