Which Channel of Customers to Pursue: using Option Solving?

A while back the writer was working with a group of executives who were pondering over which channel to develop new business: through existing partners or direct to end customers? It was obviously an important decision, so having the opportunity to share the dilemma with a group of peers for input was a great situation.
The first step was to come up with an appropriate question, which started with, “What is our best option to develop new business through existing partners or direct to end customers, considering…?”
Participants then set about producing a list of considerations, which turned out to be extensive, but was whittled down by group prioritization to: ‘resource comparisons,’ ‘legal considerations,’ ‘profit margin impact,’ ‘customer/ partner relationship integrity, and ‘risk liability.’ You can now view the complete question under the Latest Example tab.
Now they were in a position to come up with two, yin and yang, “bookends:” the two extreme and least tenable options. By doing so they would better get their creative intuitive mind to produce the most plausible range of options. After some interesting group discussions, they came up with: “Continue working as is, with both” at one end and “Develop totally new business model” at the other: again, see Latest Example tab.
With these in place, they then proceeded in sub-groups (because there were 20 people in the room) to come up with a range of plausible options. This group produced 8 options in all, of which 4 have been shared in the Latest Example (by showing the full range you would easily get locked into other options or trying to out-guess the participants, without being in their situation or mindset, and thereby lose the point of this blog).
Before the group took a confidential, individual straw poll, to choose its favored option, it was encouraged to take a break and review some of the concepts associated with option solving. The break was probably 20-30 minutes away from making their upcoming choices, giving their intuitive mind time to chew over the options and trade-offs which it is so attuned to doing. Such a natural break is called “emotional distancing” and is an important step for getting the most out of this technique and our extraordinary intuitive minds.
The group was pleased with the outcome and, for the individuals who were the originators of the quandary, they came away with a solution they admitted they would never have come up with at the outset on their own. With traditional problem solving, we’re usually happy if we can come up with two safe and known choices from which we can decide. Option solving on the other hand, given the opportunity, comes up with more unique possibilities, which is why it is so powerful and useful.
Please refer to the Latest Example to view the overall picture of a potential solution. 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 on ‘What would’ve been the best economy stimulant in Spring 2009?’” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

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