Just because something is good, doesn't mean that we should do it.
Relevant questions to be considered are,
- How much will it cost?
- How much of the possible benefit will be realized?
- What is the range of possible costs, and what makes the costs increase or decrease?
- At what cost will it no longer be worth it?
- How will we know, once we are into it, when to back off or when to "stay the course"?
- What other things could we do with the resources that might be better?
Likewise, just because we can do something to get rid of something that is bad, doesn't mean we should do it. The same questions apply.
One should be doing cost-benefit analysis across multiple categories every day for themselves personally, as well as for every project, what their work group is doing, and what their organization and even industry is doing.
There are at least two traps with Cost Benefit Analysis.
Plenty of so-called leaders try to circumnavigate the cost-benefit analysis, and present activities as things that
- HAVE TO BE DONE NO MATTER WHAT, or
- HAVE TO BE STOPPED NO MATTER WHAT.
Others, typically staffers, often misuse and subvert cost-benefit analysis as an excuse
- not to do something that makes sense to do; to support the easy, seemingly no-risk status quo (one classic obstructionist staff scam is to apply a much higher standard on justifying new activities as justifying existing activities (including their own pay));
- to give themselves a reason to let something fail rather than do the hard work necessary for success.
So given the importance of this Big Skill, is anyone formally spreading that knowledge? If so, how? And more importantly, if not, why not?