Influencing Key Decisions through Option Solving

Recently I was talking with a non-profit which was bidding for one of its programs to be adopted and funded by its local city. The bidding process was going to be even tougher than usual owing to the current fiscal crisis at most cities. It would therefore have to compete even harder for the $s that can be made available. The challenge then came down to the optimum strategy it should pursue in order to be successful in its bid.

As always the first challenge was to decide upon the right question. There was some heavy discussion with those present to figure out that question. It started out as: “What is the optimum strategy for us to focus on going forward to aid our XYZ City bid…” Once this was set, then we started to clarify the defining considerations. Eventually these came down to: “…considering severe financial constraints, the great need for health assistance, the different vested interests involved, and the need for someone to take the lead?” – see the Latest Example. As discussed in prior postings, getting the question right at the outset is critical to getting the right solutions from our intuitive mind. The intuitive mind is used to being asked thousands of times per day, by our rational mind, for its opinion on many things. The more precise the questions are from our rational mind, the better the intuitive mind will pick the right response. This is why many people will particularly dwell on defining the issue before giving their opinions.

We then defined two bookends – see the latest example –, so that our intuitive mind will reject these and find better alternatives. From this we were then able to identify six alternative options for ultimate consideration by our intuitive senses: again see the latest example.

Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Using Option Solving to assist Strategic Decision Making.”  Make your COMMENTS or go to peter to connect with the author.)


Forward-Looking Options

“Our struggles with positioning ourselves for the future do not stem from lack of imagination or intuitive capability to picture tomorrow. It is our reluctance to devote sufficient time to such a critical task, as well as our limited know-how on how to consider our future options.”

Ideally we should have everyone within an organization involved in such an exercise, or at least representatives from every corner of the organization. It should certainly not be dominated by the executive team; otherwise it will be perceived as an executive exercise. In today’s enterprise we’re more likely to see a show-and-tell presentation, along with hearing instructions as to what everyone will be doing going forward. In tomorrow’s organization we will see sub-group conversations around an appropriate option solving question like, “What key considerations should we be pursuing to build a dynamic and financially healthy future?” Everyone within the organization will have thoughts and ideas about this, so by starting an across the board conversation we are likely to tap into a great reservoir of insight.

  • The question posed (“What key considerations should we be pursuing to build a dynamic and financially healthy future?”) will encourage sub-groups of participants (hopefully the whole organization or a worthy cross-section of it- the more the merrier) to make several proposals on what will propel their organization forward.
  • Through facilitation, that list will be reduced to five or six alternatives; framed by a couple of the most unlikely options – or “bookends” (see Latest Example).
  • An individually based, confidential poll of all participants will reveal the most likely forward-looking option. Potential examples include: more innovative products/services, better focused marketing efforts, more responsive customer service, go in a new direction, more effective leadership, and so on. (Note: Such an activity takes some guts by executives, but can pay enormous dividends both in insight and good will. – see Latest Example.)
  • Such a poll invokes the “wisdom of the crowd:” that is, participants’ view of what it would take for their organization to produce more dynamic and financially healthy growth. (Note: Rather than just depend on a sole senior executive [or small band of executives] to make such a choice, the collective view of the largest group of participants is much more likely to draw out the best conclusion – see book “The Wisdom of Crowds” by James Suroweicki.)
  • One other option, especially with non-profits, is to get a core group of board members together and work the Forward-Looking Options exercise through with them (either partially or fully). They can then set up another session with a wider board group, where the whole group assembled can contribute to the earlier deliberations, add to it, and then take an independent-poll of everyone assembled to determine the most likely way forward.


Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Influencing the outcome of a key decision, through Option Solving.”  Make your COMMENTS or go to peter to connect with the author.)