Where to Next: using Option Solving

Some while back I found myself in a room with about 10 CEO members of an industry association board. Have you ever tried working with a room full of CEOs? Well, if you have, you’ll know it’s like trying to herd cats. They all have strong opinions and they would all like their point of view to become the prevailing view.

Having said that, Option Solving came to the rescue because it’s an excellent way of letting everyone make a contribution, but, at the same time, helping them to come some sort of consensus. This particular group was trying to decide “where to go next with their industry association.”

My first challenge was to get them to coalesce around a pertinent question. Fortunately the right initial words came along fairly easily, such as, “What is the best immediate option for our business association to move in the right direction, in light of…” Now we had to determine the considerations associated with this possibility. I allowed them to break into two groups and discuss the possibilities, so they could compare notes. Within half an hour, we were able to add on to the question “…membership is dwindling, our members want more value for money, there are some great business synergy opportunities, and there is big potential in a national consortium.” This sort of question started to get their creative juices flowing.

I then challenged them to come up with two “bookends,” the Ying and Yang extreme options that would further help frame their thinking. What they came up with, based on further sub-group discussion, was Remain as an Industry Association and Shut it down. That really put the cat among the pigeons as far as getting them to think creatively. I then set the same sub-groups to work, to come up with 2-3 realistic but creative options that could potentially take their association to the next level. Some of these you will find in the Latest Example.

After an independent vote on the alternatives, they arrived at a consensus view of how to proceed. This is not so important, as the outcome a year later when membership was rising once more and there were a number of synergies benefitting most of them. More importantly, its chairperson said to me subsequently: “It took you less than a day to get us to this point: if we had tried to do the same ourselves, it would have taken us the best part of a week.” That’s a big gain with Option Solving: its time-effectiveness. Get the book and try it sometime.      

Please refer to the Latest Example to some of the outcome. If you have an example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area. 

Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Using Option Solving to decide ‘Best approach to Production Scheduling?’.”  You’re your COMMENTS or go to peter @ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)


Doing More with Less: using Option Solving

 In talking with a recent not-for-profit-group, it was grappling with a similar issue to so many non-profits (and businesses) these days, ‘Trying to do more with less.’ Its team was anxious to figure this out because it had already cut much to the bone and yet it still had a big task within its community.

It got as many of its people together as possible and set to work. Its first task was to frame the right question starting with: “What is our best approach to ‘Doing more with less,’ considering… The group drew up a list of considerations and then quickly narrowed them down to three of particular importance, namely … considering increasing volunteer support (office and board), unable to add more staff, and still increasing revenue each year to accommodate needs and mandates?” These considerations, as part of any Option Solving question, are most important, since they focus our intuitive mind on important issues (both positive and less positive) that need to be factored into any final choices.

Once this was done, then the group focused on the ‘Bookends”: see Latest Example. Again, these bookends sharpened their realization of the least likely options, but, at the same time, got their intuitive minds working creatively on their most promising option choices. You can also see some of the eight alternatives they developed, from which, by means of an independent ballot, they narrowed down to the most likely option for their purposes at that moment in time.

As a result, two key things happened. Firstly, the exercise put their minds at ease because they felt their “collective wisdom” had produced the right choice. Secondly, they were all committed to get involved and make this option work. This is the one thing that is most often missing with traditional problem solving: people are not that committed because the solution is usually the brainchild of one person and everyone else either likes it or goes along with it. With Option Solving everyone participates and is more likely to go along with the outcome because their voice was heard through the independent ballot.

Please refer to the Latest Example to some of the outcome. If you have an example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area. 

Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Using Option Solving to decide ‘Where do we go next?’.”  Make your COMMENTS or go to peter @ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

Strategic Decision Making: Maximizing Strategic Effectiveness through Option Solving

Strategies often fall apart due to inadequate decisions along the way. Sometimes those decisions are simple and straightforward and traditional decision making will suffice. But, more often than not, the choices are complex and the stakes are high. For this reason it requires maximum quality decision making: it requires the maximum exploration of options.

This is where Option Solving comes in handy because it taps into our most natural decision making capability (our intuitive mind): whereas traditional problem solving taps more into our rational mind, which is nowhere near as gifted when it comes to making decisions. Our intuitive intelligence is built to handle complex choices. It is made to juggle different variations. It is also constructed to see the forest-before-the-trees. Our rational minds don’t have this same adroitness. All this has developed through the course of our lives: billions of computations and permutations of our life’s experiences.

Like a computer back-up system, it constantly synthesizes and compares with what’s already there and what’s new. When challenged with fresh decisions, it is able to instantly explore its enormous database and find similar experiences and outcomes. Then, of course, there are its biological senses that have been honed and handed down over generations until it is part of our DNA. Until more recently, we have given insufficient attention to its power and importance in decision making.

Consequently, to fully plug into our intuitive mind, when making key strategic decisions, it makes a whole lot of sense. With the option solving technique (see the Book tab) and its question formation, creation of “bookends,” and formulation of viable options, it creates an intelligent “picture” from which our intuitive capability can scan and make an optimum choice.

For strategic purposes, its advantages are:

  • Determines that the right question is asked (fires the possibilities).
  • Invites maximum creative thinking by framing with extreme options (uses “bookends”)
  • Challenges participants to produce at least 5-6 options (explores all the possibilities).
  • Encourages the inclusion of a diverse group of people wherever practicable (accesses the “wisdom of crowds”).
  • Creates a comprehensive picture from which an optimum strategic decision can be made (pictures are an essential food of our intuitive minds).
  • Allows for “peace of mind” in the ultimate decision (because all options were explored).
  • Produces the optimum decision of the moment (owing to the power and wisdom of our intuitive minds).

Please refer to the Latest Example to see a typical strategic use. If you have an example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area.  

Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Using Option Solving to ‘Do more with less’.”  Make your COMMENTS or go to peter @ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)