Strategic Future of ABC: using Option Solving

Our option solving candidate for this week: an international instrumentation company with a presence in 14 countries. It has several manufacturing locations strategically located with a marketing reach of many more, besides its subsidiary entities.

The “great recession” hit it pretty hard like so many other OEM suppliers, especially since it worked with many of the major equipment suppliers in the world. It had to make many adjustments to retain its financial viability: such as closing marginal units and trimming its workforce wherever it made business sense. However, at some point it had to move from trimming to preparing for renewed growth but, like so many others, was faced with a tough banking and credit situation. This reality, as with countless other manufacturers, is destined to limit its re-expansion without some creative resource initiatives.

One of its key executives decided to speculate about its future options before proposing fresh ideas to his colleagues. To aid his thinking and objectivity he chose to work with an outside resource and together they put together an appropriate question, which took a reasonable amount of debate and time. This turned out to be: “What is our best option over the next 12 months to reposition ABC as the dominant player and achieve its optimal potential?”

Once in place, he was able to identify the two “bookends” (see Smart Decisions book) that would form choice boundaries for his question. These were: at one end, “Keep managing for survival,” and at the other end, “Sell ABC to the highest bidder.” Since both were unacceptable options at that moment in time, for a whole host of reasons, they served to spark this executive’s intuitive intelligence into a strongly creative but strategic mode.

If you now go to the Latest Example, you will see some of the options he developed from which he made his final choice after he slept on all his options overnight. This latter sleep activity is called “emotional distancing,” which allows the intuitive intelligence to work at its best; to make all the trade-offs and weigh the alternatives while asleep. In the book you will see the reasoning for this phenomenon.

At some point, he and his senior colleagues from around the world will need to build a consensus for the best way ahead. With the Latest Example version in his back pocket, he will be in a position to lead such a discussion: although, since the group will swell to around 25, he should consider using an outside facilitator. A capable leader should be able to orchestrate up to 10 executives through such an exercise but when the numbers get higher, there’s much to be gained from using an experienced outsider to facilitate such discussions. Another advantage of using outside facilitators is that they have usually seen a variety of approaches for resolving different company issues, consequently can add to the creativity pool.

Experienced facilitators can also aid splitting larger groups into sub-groups, to aid participant involvement, since those on the fringes will not necessarily buy-into the activity or final outcome…more about larger groups in the book “Smart Decisions.”

This company did come up with an appropriate option and is now better positioned to steadily grow again in a difficult marketplace (Next week’s posting: Significant not-for-profit facing major finance crunch…Please also make COMMENTS for connecting with the author)

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