Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 23, Issue 18;   May 3, 2023: Personal Feasibility Decisions

Personal Feasibility Decisions


When considering whether to exploit a rare but desirable opportunity, there is a risk that desire can overcome good sense. Having at hand a predefined framework for making such decisions reduces the risk of blundering by acting in haste.
A red molded plastic zipper

A red molded plastic zipper. In busy organizations, scheduling projects is much like zippering a jacket closed. Schedules interlock. If even one zipper tooth moves out of place, the zipper won't zip. Even though you might find a way to make your project fit the crowded organizational schedule today, it's risky if the fit is too tight, because schedules change.

When we're offered opportunities to take on new projects, prudence requires that we ensure the feasibility of taking them on. Because considering these offers sometimes occurs under time pressure or political pressure, it's useful to have at hand a framework for pondering such decisions. This post proposes a "personal feasibility" decision framework. It's a good start, but you probably would alter what's here or add dimensions to make it a good fit for you.

If the opportunity entails delivering something of value to someone who will use it, ensure that you understand that user's needs, wants, and alternatives.
Needs and wants are rarely identical. As compared to needs, it's usually easier to communicate with the user about wants, and more difficult to satisfy them. Alternatives are important because your offering competes with the alternatives. Ideally, you'll be offering to meet a previously unidentified want that's truly needed, and for which there are only inferior alternatives. No opportunity is ideal in this market dimension, but it's good to know how to recognize one when it comes along.
Your own personal resources, or the anticipated resources the effort would need, must be available during the time period when they would be needed.
Consider any personal commitments or organizational efforts that would compete with this opportunity for time and attention. If you discover conflicting opportunities or commitments, try to rearrange things. A small schedule change can sometimes resolve the conflict. If you're unable to resolve the conflict, undertaking the opportunity could be a risky move.
Both the As compared to needs, it's usually easier
to communicate with the user about
wants, and more difficult to satisfy them
organization and you, personally, should already have — or should be able to acquire — all the knowledge, talent, or equipment required to exploit this opportunity successfully.
If you can identify capability gaps, consider what might be needed to close them. Rank them in severity, realistically. Search carefully for deal-breakers. In your search, beware cognitive biases, especially if the opportunity is rare and desirable.
The current array of resources, knowledge, talent, and equipment must be compatible with the needed resources, knowledge, talent, or equipment.
If somehow you were to acquire all that's needed, those acquisitions would need to be compatible with whatever you now have. For example, if you're permitted to hire the people you need, would you have the budget required to cover the cost of additional software licenses? Would IT be willing and able to support the new software tools?
Ensure that the probability of success is high enough, and foreseeable risks have been mitigated or can be mitigated.
Investigate the risks associated with the opportunity. If undertaking this effort alters the risk profiles of other efforts, either underway or anticipated, verify that the alterations are acceptable. Risk, in this sense, includes risks associated with organizational politics.

Last words

Finally, consider organizational politics. The foundational concept of the effort needs to be compatible with accepted beliefs about the organization's mission and the roles of the people who would be doing the work. Assure yourself that any political obstacles that remain have plausible resolutions. Go to top Top  Next issue: On Schedule Conflicts  Next Issue

Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunLove the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenogMhuqCxAnbfLvzbner@ChacigAthhhYwzZDgxshoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

This article in its entirety was written by a 
          human being. No machine intelligence was involved in any way.Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

This article in its entirety was written by a human being. No machine intelligence was involved in any way.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Emotions at Work:

FeedbackFeedback Fumbles
"Would you like some feedback on that?" Uh-oh, you think, absolutely not. But if you're like many of us, your response is something like, "Sure, I'd be very interested in your thoughts." Why is giving and receiving feedback so difficult?
Too much time on his handsHurtful Clichés: II
Much of our day-to-day conversation consists of harmless clichés: "How goes it?" or "Nice to meet you." Some other clichés aren't harmless, but they're so common that we use them without thinking. Here's Part II of a series exploring some of these clichés.
Three adult male chimpanzees during a grooming sessionFavors, Payback, and Thoughtlessness
Someone at work who isn't particularly a friend or foe has asked you for a favor. What happens if you say no? Do you grant the favor? How do you decide what to do?
A wrecked automobileToxic Conflict at Work
Preventing toxic conflict is a whole lot better than trying to untangle it once it starts. But to prevent toxic conflict, we must understand some basics of conflict, and why untangling toxic conflict can be so difficult.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2016How to Listen to Someone Who's Dead Wrong
Sometimes we must listen attentively to someone with whom we strongly disagree. The urge to interrupt can be overpowering. How can we maintain enough self-control to really listen?

See also Emotions at Work and Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

A blue peacock of IndiaComing October 4: Self-Importance and Conversational Narcissism at Work: I
Conversational narcissism is a set of behaviors that participants use to focus the exchange on their own self-interest rather than the shared objective. This post emphasizes the role of these behaviors in advancing a narcissist's sense of self-importance. Available here and by RSS on October 4.
Men in conversation at an eventAnd on October 11: Self-Importance and Conversational Narcissism at Work: II
Self-importance is one of four major themes of conversational narcissism. Knowing how to recognize the patterns of conversational narcissism is a fundamental skill needed for controlling it. Here are eight examples that emphasize self-importance. Available here and by RSS on October 11.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenogMhuqCxAnbfLvzbner@ChacigAthhhYwzZDgxshoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500-1000 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.
If your teams don't yet consistently achieve state-of-the-art teamwork, check out this catalog. Help is just a few clicks/taps away!
Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.