Know the 6 Steps in Cost/Benefit Analysis

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We all know we should make an investment when the benefits outweigh the costs, but few people understand what really goes into the analysis. HBR newsletters Know the 6 Steps in Cost/Benefit Analysis Management Tip of the DayHere is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

Alternative Development Best Practice 4 – Common Cost and Value Identifiers

Strategy Driven

Beginning with the end in mind, it is important for those developing business cases for the organization’s various ongoing operations and proposed initiative alternatives to do so in such a way that leaders can compare the cost and benefits of the proposed activities.

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Great Engagement Doesn’t Have To Have A Big Price Tag

The Leadership Advisor

The contingency still lies with the cost. Here is where most organizational leaders would think about the “cost” of doing something for his birthday to try and boost engagement numbers. This didn’t cost the company a farthing.

Price 59

When Training and Coaching Fail

Lead Change Blog

Because she is relatively new to the organization, you are inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, a skilled employee has a problem behavior that adversely affects team dynamics, morale, productivity, quality, or other business measures.

The Leader as Witness

Lead Change Blog

If you did a cost-benefit analysis on some of the items on our shelves, you’d see the demand is way too low to make these items profitable,” says owner Gary Meschi. My mother is north of 100 years old and still active.

Living on Vegas Time


I''d love to see some cost-benefit analysis on those Many years ago I attended a class on campaign management. It was held in Las Vegas and was conducted by political campaign wizards who spoke on the ins and outs of their craft.

Ideas Don't Equal Innovation | N2Growth Blog

N2Growth Blog

Not only do raw ideas have little intrinsic value, but they are often very costly. My advice to you is not to let your business get caught up in embracing random ideas – at least not without some initial analysis being conducted to determine the likelihood of success.

People Skills

Marshall Goldsmith

We believe they're smart and something else, and we give them the benefit of the doubt on skill. If we do a 'cost benefit analysis,' we conclude that our relationship with our partner or friend is far more important than winning an argument about where to eat. The reason I devote so much energy to identifying interpersonal challenges in successful people is because the higher you go, the more your problems are behavioral.

Influencing Up

Marshall Goldsmith

Don't assume that executives can automatically 'make the connection' between the benefit to your unit and the benefit to the larger corporation. Present a realistic cost-benefit analysis of your ideas--don't just sell benefits. Be prepared to have a realistic discussion of the costs of your idea. Such action ultimately benefits your company, your customers, your co-worker and yourself.

People Skills

Marshall Goldsmith

We believe they’re smart and something else, and we give them the benefit of the doubt on skill. If we do a “cost benefit analysis,” we conclude that our relationship with our partner or friend is far more important than winning an argument about where to eat.

When to Confront and When to Work Around


There is a certain cost-benefit analysis that goes into workplace problems. What are the potential costs? Some considerations are: How serious is the problem? Does the problem constitute a threat of any sort? How imminent is the threat? Who will bear heavy burdens? Is a less expensive and/or less painful solution lurking in the near future? Is confronting the problem the decision maker's clear responsibility?

Effectively Influencing Decision Makers: Ensuring That Your Knowledge Makes a Difference

Marshall Goldsmith

Don’t assume that executives can automatically “make the connection” between the benefit to your unit and the benefit to the larger corporation. Do a thorough analysis of ideas before “challenging the system”. Present a realistic “cost-benefitanalysis of your ideas – don’t just sell benefits. Be prepared to have a realistic discussion of the costs of your idea. Think about how your knowledge can potentially benefit your organization.

Self-Confidence for Leaders

Marshall Goldsmith

The best that you can do as a leader is to gather all of the information that you can (in a timely manner), do a cost-benefit analysis of potential options, use your best judgment. I was recently teaching in a seminar for MBA students at the University of California at Berkeley's Haas School of Business. A young second-year student seemed anxious to talk with me. He finally asked: "I have read your book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There.

Networking for Introverts

Harvard Business Review

Every networking event should be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis: if you weren’t here, what would you be doing, instead? Running the numbers is particularly important for introverts, because even if the alternative isn’t something overtly productive like writing a new business proposal, the cost side of the equation can be steep: you may be exhausting yourself emotionally for hours or days afterward.

Why Excom Meetings Are the Wrong Place to Make Decisions

Harvard Business Review

Such non-interventionism does not demonstrate a lack of courage, as some (mostly non-executives) would claim, but rather results from a rational cost-benefit analysis. It’s an age-old complaint: executive team meetings are “a waste of time.”

CEO 10

If Data Is Money, Why Don’t Businesses Keep It Secure?

Harvard Business Review

Like money, it can flow easily across borders and it commands an intrinsic value — the insight generated from personal data helps deliver benefits to individuals, businesses, and governments alike. Understand how regulation alters the data cost-benefit analysis.

Don’t Talk Yourself Out of Trying a Second Career

Harvard Business Review

Since they are starting “late,” they believe they should do a cost benefit analysis to see if their reorientation is “worth it.” If you only included financial costs and benefits, your analysis is flawed.

How to Beat Procrastination

Harvard Business Review

That’s because it’s easier for our brains to process concrete rather than abstract things , and the immediate hassle is very tangible compared with those unknowable, uncertain future benefits. To make the costs of action feel smaller: Identify the first step.

Air Pollution Is Making Office Workers Less Productive

Harvard Business Review

For policy makers, the evidence changes the cost-benefit analysis of environmental regulation and suggests that prioritizing industrial expansion over environmental protection may actually undermine economic growth. Indeed, a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that for Shanghai, air pollution is costing its service sector billions of dollars each year in lost productivity.

Why Businesses Fail | N2Growth Blog

N2Growth Blog

Show me someone who hasn’t made a bad decision and I’ll show you someone who is either not being honest, or someone who avoids decisioning at all costs, which by the way, constitutes a bad decision. Is the input being provided for the benefit of the source or the benefit of the enterprise?

Blog 19

How to Avoid Collaboration Fatigue

Harvard Business Review

And it’s easy to assume that your team will know that its objective is to produce the highest quality solution at the lowest possible cost in the shortest amount of time. For example, when your team inevitably has to choose between the lowest cost solution and the speed-enhancing solution for the supply chain, which objective wins? These decisions require a shared strategic direction, not an on-demand cost/benefit analysis.

Let's Be Realistic About Measuring Impact

Harvard Business Review

With a mission to fight poverty in New York City, the foundation puts each of its 200-plus grants through a cost-benefit analysis every year. Robin Hood uses these figures with caution, employing them as placeholders for estimating benefits until better research comes along.

A Better Metric for the Value of a Worker Training Program

Harvard Business Review

That lack of knowledge is costly. But according to the World Bank , only 30% of youth employment programs are successful, with many of those offering only marginal benefit. Many measure cost per student. These metrics are useful but miss the big picture, in part because they mistake a program’s cost for its value. Cost per student is good to know, but it doesn’t mean much if students don’t succeed in the workplace.


Teaching Teenagers to Develop Their Emotional Intelligence

Harvard Business Review

Their rate of psychopathology is five times that of 75 years ago, according to one meta-analysis. A meta-analysis of 213 studies on a wide range of social and emotional learning programs showed similar findings. If the U.S.

An Entrepreneurial Society Needs an Entrepreneurial State

Harvard Business Review

Static cost-benefit analysis cannot capture the transformative impact of strategic, market-creating public investments. Innovation-led growth can square a circle that is challenging modern capitalism: how to generate sustained and sustainable economic growth, built on high-value, well-paying jobs. This is at the core of entrepreneurial societies, and it is a good objective. The problem is how to get there. Although many countries have set the goal, few have achieved it.

One Year After India Killed Off Cash, Here’s What Other Countries Should Learn from It

Harvard Business Review

In light of this, every economic policy ought to be preceded by some essential process elements: a sound theory; a rationale for why the underlying assumptions are valid, and the evidence for those assumptions; and cost-benefit analyses, including accounting for the systemic effects, unintended consequences, and learnings from similar actions elsewhere. A fact-based cost-benefit analysis is essential. Mint/Getty Images.

High Speed Rail Versus Austerity

Harvard Business Review

Philadelphia would benefit from the population increase and all the amenities that private enterprise would build to support it. The rapid transport will allow for a more efficient allocation of business activity across space, helping firms to control costs.

How to Do Walking Meetings Right

Harvard Business Review

Merchant traded her coffee-shop meetings for walking meetings and immediately saw the benefits. Based on this, we undertook an exploratory study of the benefits associated with walking. However, look at these findings through the lens of a cost-benefit analysis. The costs associated with regularly participating in walking meetings are next to nil. Just how do walking meetings produce these positive benefits in the workplace?

The Skills Gap That's Slowing Down Your Career

Harvard Business Review

If your speed bump is a lack of the right skills, it helps to first do a quick cost/benefit analysis to see if investing in an upgrade will be worth it. Career speed bumps (much like their counterparts in the road ) can take you by surprise. If you don't slow down to navigate and learn from them, they can trip you up again and again. Take not having the right credentials, one common career speed bump.

How Freelancers Can Make Sure They Get Paid on Time

Harvard Business Review

” They “help you prepare taxes, make sure your costs are under control, and ensure your business is structured properly.” “Mostly it’s a cost-benefit analysis” that involves calculating the amount that’s owed you, your odds of success, and the hassle of hiring — and paying for — a lawyer, says Pearce. One of the most stressful things about being self-employed is managing your cash flow.

Are You Too Afraid to Succeed?

Harvard Business Review

Could he do a “cost-benefit analysis” of what it meant to be successful? Tim had been on the fast track. An Ivy League graduate, he had joined one of the premier consulting firms as an associate. He went on to take an MBA at INSEAD, graduating at the top of his class. Recruited by a pharmaceutical firm he rose quickly through the ranks, joining the executive team in record time. Within just eight years after joining the company he was appointed its CEO.

Don't Let a Spreadsheet Decide Where You Locate Your Business

Harvard Business Review

Michael Porter's article in the March issue of HBR on choosing the United States makes the point that in choosing where to locate even high value-adding business activities, many companies don't do a very thorough costs/benefits analysis. They tend to focus on the obvious and most easily measured benefits (lower wage costs, tax rates, etc.) and on the cost side struggle to even identify half of the items, especially those incurred in the future.

Followership : Blog | Executive Coaching | CO2 Partners


Wars are usually won by armies with the best soldiers, teams with the best athletes usually win the most games, and companies with the best employees usually outperform their competitors, so it is to a leader’s benefit to surround him or herself with the best followers.

Take It, Leave It, or Change It

The Recovering Engineer

The decision was to do a “cost-benefit analysis&# of our new situation. do your “cost-benefit analysis&# and choose one of these options: Take It Accept the change with all of its good and bad components, and realize that it is your choice to stay.

Facebook Live Is the Company’s Newest Strategic Weapon

Harvard Business Review

That’s the benefit. The cost is that it isn’t stored, so your audience is whoever happens to be around. Second, it is far from clear that Facebook puts out tools like this by doing a detailed cost-benefit analysis. HBR STAFF. Facebook is Live.

Business Resilience Comes from Working with Nature

Harvard Business Review

But there are more subtle benefits: forests also clean our water and coastal wetlands and reefs provide natural defense from storms and floods. So a city or company looking to safeguard its water supply, for example, could invest in protecting or restoring lands instead of building a new water treatment plant (which is exactly what the New York City did when it bought land in the Catskill Mountains in 1997 — this initiative avoided up to $8 billion in costs for a new filtration facility?and

Learning from Microfinance's Woes

Harvard Business Review

The third benefit is that microfinance represents a new industry that generates jobs and services. To make a judgment, a comparative cost-benefit analysis would be necessary. And we couldn't throw in the benefit of poverty-reduction as a mitigating factor since that doesn't seem to be happening. A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture about microfinance, and got sucker-punched.

Millennials Are the MacGyvers of Business

Harvard Business Review

million hospital-associated infections cause or contribute to nearly 100,000 deaths each year, costing the U.S. it is relatively inexpensive, with current SwipeSense devices projected to cost only $1.50 We want to hear more stories like this: If you are a frugal, flexible, and feisty Millennial like Yuri, tell us how you are adopting — or could potentially use — the jugaad (DIY) method to cost-effectively solve pressing problems in your own neighborhood.

Communicating at All Levels of the Organization | Survive Your.

Survive Your Promotion

Here are some focus points for each group: CEO – Focus on business benefits and competitive advantage. CFO – Three words… cost benefit analysis. The C-level presentation is basically a highlight reel of the more in-depth analysis you do for your boss.

Bad Boss Blues « Survive Your Promotion!

Survive Your Promotion

I create an in depth cost benefit analysis and make sure I run the presentation by another finance person before I send it off to the big chief. the benefit of the doubt and not asking for perfection. Survive Your Promotion!