Necessity and Feasibility


When making decisions, we often need to consider two elements: necessity and feasibility.

In other words, necessity is used to determine whether something is necessary to do, while feasibility is used to determine whether it is practical to implement. Generally, necessity is considered first, followed by feasibility. Because the former is the gatekeeper for doing or not doing something, if the gate is closed (not necessary), then the latter does not need to be considered.

However, in daily life, we often reverse or mix them together to the point where it affects the speed and quality of decision-making.

Based on my own experience, I'll give two practical examples.

Example 1: This is complicated, don't make changes easily#

During a meeting, an idea was proposed to launch a new feature, and I was familiar with the business module where this feature was located. After understanding the background and the changes to be made, my brain started to think quickly: which pages are involved in this change, which modules are coupled, how much business is involved... Finally, my brain came up with a result: the change has a wide scope, and therefore, I came to a preliminary conclusion: it should not be changed easily.

Then my colleague woke me up and said that we should first evaluate the value of this change before deciding how to proceed. If the value is significant, then it is necessary to do it, and then we can think about how to implement it.

It's interesting that I, who know this feature the best, became the person who opposed the change at first—because I was too familiar with it, my thinking immediately jumped to how to do this step, adding the element of difficulty to the decision-making process and affecting subsequent judgments.

Evaluate the value first, then think about how to do it. We actually know this principle, but it's easy to grasp it inaccurately in practice. Just observe those who often refuse to do things, and you'll understand.

Example 2: The goals set by the boss are too unrealistic#

I believe that almost all employees in companies, especially those at the execution level, have complained about this: the KPI set by the boss is too outrageous! It completely ignores the reality.

We bear the KPI set by our leaders, and our leaders bear the KPI set by the boss. No one has an easy time.

During a drinking session with my leader, she shared her latest understanding: the (unrealistic) goals set by the boss, from our perspective, seem to show a lack of understanding of the actual business and are unreasonable... But from the boss's standpoint, looking at the industry and the market, these are the performance targets that should be achieved at the current stage, or in other words, they are the goals that the company should strive to achieve at this stage—they are necessary things to do. The implicit meaning is that if the current scale does not reach the corresponding goals, it is possible to be eliminated.

These goals are necessary, even if they are unreasonable—so the conclusion is to take these goals as expectations, as the guiding star, and then work diligently to achieve realistic goals.

After changing the perspective, the mindset becomes much better. We won't unilaterally think that the goals set by the boss are unrealistic, nor will we disrupt our own position.

The first example is meant to illustrate the common cognitive bias in our daily lives—prioritizing feasibility over necessity, which, in certain situations, inverts the order of importance.

The second example is meant to illustrate that when we encounter seemingly "impossible" things, it's worth considering from a different perspective whether they are necessary. If they are, then we should find ways to overcome them; if not, then we should find ways to escape.

Recently, I have been reading the book "The Deng Xiaoping Era." When deciding whether to carry out reform and opening up, there were two extreme opinions within the party. The conservatives believed that this would lead to the path of capitalism, and the country had just emerged from the Cultural Revolution, with numerous problems, so they thought it shouldn't be messed with. The reformists believed that reform was necessary, especially after Deng Xiaoping and others visited rapidly developing countries like Singapore and Japan, which strengthened their belief in reform—reform was necessary, and without it, the country would only fall further behind.

Once the necessity was established, Deng Xiaoping's task was to avoid internal conflicts, for example, by emphasizing that this was the primary stage of socialism (we are not deviating from socialism, but exploring in the primary stage), and by proposing and emphasizing the establishment of special economic zones (which actually had numerous policy privileges, but to avoid being seen as political zones, they were called economic zones). These were all clever strategies at the implementation level.

Therefore, before making a decision, it's worth considering the necessity first, and then considering the feasibility.

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