An engineer submitted proposed costs to the city council for some trail enhancements. He then noted that the biggest variable was the price for tree removal, openly admitting that the actual cost could be significantly higher than the amount that was currently listed.

All estimates are a guess and the final figures often vary from what is first approved. I like the engineer’s method of calling out the “biggest variable” as a way to help council members understand the level of risk that they are undertaking and to help them gauge total cost projections by monitoring the tree removal line item.

Think about how you present your proposals that, by their very nature, include uncertainties. Can you increase your chances of approval by breaking down the variables that could fluctuate and calling out the places that are the highest risk? Your ability to distinguish that all factors are not equal will demonstrate your expertise and understanding and give the decision-makers more confidence to proceed.


About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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