I grew up in a generation that “anything was possible”. Man walked on the moon. My husband has even stood on the Mission Control room floor and watched astronauts in the International Space Station. (He can assure you they aren’t faking it.) I can talk to someone half way around the globe from the middle of my street – no wires attached. If you can think it, it can happen.
Really? “Anything”? That idea works great for innovation, for business expansion, or career dreams. Not so much for targeted problem solving. While everything is possible – including potential root causes – not everything is probable. At work, I get asked lots of “what if” questions – to which I respond “that is possible, however the question is how probable.”
In the thick of business decisions aimed at fixing disruption, to attack in-the-minute problems, when timing is critical – focus on the probable. It is the filter that will let you be more right more often. Focusing on the possible will tie you like an anchor to indecision.
So where does the possible come in? Do I ever care? Once a plan is laid in, considering the possible allows you to be quick and nimble with plan b, plan c, and so on – when things go astray you have a backup plan ready to go.
Rule of thumb: Decide based on the probable, have back up plans based on the possible.