What can I do to win the cooperation of an important alliance: using Option Solving?

It wasn’t so long ago that I was discussing with a senior operations executive about his challenge of building a more productive relationship with a key business alliance. He advised me that the entity in question wasn’t that easy to work with, owing to the personalities involved, even though the prize of an effective relationship would be considerable for both parties.
It was only natural to encourage this executive to think about his own style of operating, for him to understand to what extent he was either helping or hindering things. Unfortunately, as is the case with a number of executives, his rather brusque and domineering style was clearly not helping the situation. Even so, I thought, if I could get him to come up with positive solution, perhaps I could also encourage him to look at his own style in the mix.
By explaining to him the option solving technique, he was intrigued to work with it as a way on unearthing a viable solution. After running through the various 6-7 steps, we set out to create the most appropriate question starting with: What can I do to win the cooperation of an important alliance: considering…?
Together we produced a listing of five considerations and he decided to incorp-orate all of them, which included: “The financial sensitivities involved, egos at stake, safety issues involved, need to optimize reliability, and the huge prize of success. Go to the blog’s Latest Example to see the question in full.
Now his question was ready, he set about producing two “bookends”. Two extreme, “yin and yang” options that would test his intuitive mind to reject them in a search for more appropriate options. Simultaneously, they would also set limits on the range of option possibilities. After some thought and discussion, two bookends emerged: “Get rid of current alliance (although there were few viable alternatives available),” and “Do it ourselves (this would mean a major invest-ment).”
His intuition could not buy-into these extreme options, so he quickly started searching for alternatives. Note how he qualified each extreme stance with a rationale as to why they were unacceptable: a further nudge to his intuitive powers. With these testy “bookends,” his intuitive mind started racing to find better options.
You will observe how he produced an interesting range of 5 options, which can be viewed in the blog’s Latest Example. One of them included: “Stand back and be hands off.” You will notice he came up with four other rather thoughtful options, also to be found in our Latest Example.
We took a break for about 15 minutes to permit some “emotional distancing.” We discussed some other quite unrelated issues, with our original picture of options turned over on the table, so we could concentrate on something else for a while. It was important to allow his intuitive mind to work its subconscious magic and chew over the options, at the same time seeking comparisons from past experiences…all in a relative instant.
When we turned the sheet back over, he took a few moments (literally) to review the contents and then made his choice. This choice was to work best for him and the situation as he saw it. I didn’t waste this epiphany moment, since I used it to also talk about his own style as well as his next steps: both of which reinforced a positive outcome from his perspective. He could now, all of a sudden, see a clear way for moving forward, which is quite satisfying as you will already appreciate.
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: ‘What can I do to win a second chance?’ Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

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What is our best option for minimizing vehicle claims: using Option Solving?

At a recent practitioner’s workshop, one of the participants raised his dilemma with other group members about his need to minimize vehicle claims from their users. He pointed how his company moves people’s cars to and fro from the US to other destinations in the world. The name of the game is to do this with minimal or no damage to the owner’s vehicle, which is not always easy due to logistics, passing them through third party port staff, and the actual shipping activity where you are subject to mother nature’s weather conditions.
For this reason, his company uses vehicle processing centers for cars to be brought to, properly “wrapped” and then loaded onto and off-loaded from ships. The cars are closely inspected when they arrive and leave inspection centers at both ends. However, owing to the nature of the vehicle owners, word can spread on how to take advantage of the system.
So with the aid of his workshop “buddies” they set out to solve how they could keep claims to a minimum: his advantage was that he would get input from people outside his business. Those people could also be users of his company’s system. The group set about developing the best question, which commenced with: “What is our best option for minimizing vehicle claims, considering…”
They then came up with a list of seven considerations and reckoned on making use four of them (a little more than 50%, since it was an odd number of considerations) – both constraints and opportunities – that included: “Need to sustain high client satisfaction, minimize financial losses, maximize employee education, and ensure we encourage good customer ‘ethical’ behavior.” The blog’s Latest Example shares the question in full.
Once they had their question ready, they knew they had to produce two “bookends”: two extreme, “yin and yang” options that would challenge their intuitive minds to reject in a search for more plausible options, but also set limits on their option picture’s range of possibilities. Their collective intuition would not accept extreme options, so would quickly start them searching for more feasible ones. Following some deliberation, two bookends emerged: “Status quo: continue to accept X% claims on delivery,” and “Terminate sub-performers: a major investment.” Note how they came up with extreme stances, but qualified each one to clarify what “status quo” or “terminate its own staff” would mean; rather than just state extreme options. With these provocative “bookends,” their intuitive minds went to work on better alternatives.
This group then created 5 alternative options; these can now be viewed in the blog’s Latest Example. Perhaps their most interesting choice was: “Have customers complete an inspection ‘pre-form.’” We can assume they were referring to users doing their own pre-inspection at the time of handing over their vehicle: this was offered by a group member who was not part of the company. Their other four options can be found in our Latest Example.
They broke off for about 10 minutes to allow for some “emotional distancing.” They went in different directions: refreshments, catch up with people on their cell phones, find the bathroom, or break off into other conversations. After 10 minutes, the issue sponsor was anxious to get them back and get their confidential votes. Their choice is not important to readers because you were not in their shoes and tempt you to second-guess them. Even so, it was clear the Vehicle Executive was pleased with the outcome because he received fresh perspectives and they had explored all reasonable options.
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 for an executive to decide, ‘What can I do to win the cooperation of an important alliance?’” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

What is our best option for still holding a workshop with time running out: using Option Solving?

It wasn’t so long ago that two workshop partners and I were debating over whether to continue with a planned option solving practitioner workshop. We had set everything up for a New Year launch, knowing that each of us would be individually facing a hectic spell early in the year before the run up to the work-shop. Despite our early promotional activities, prior to our respective hectic-spells: when we returned, our webpage wasn’t working properly and with few indications of responses. We were left with the awkward dilemma of what to do.
We organized a conference call to discuss the situation. But before that moment arrived, I decided to work through the situation privately in advance: another good use of option solving. Quite naturally I set about developing the best question, which started with: “What is our best option for continuing with our planned workshop, considering…” I then developed a list of seven considerations and decided to utilize four of them (a little more than 50%, being an odd number) – both constraints and opportunities – that included: “No firm commitments to date, a week to go before paying for room rental, five people had shown some interest, and reluctance to test patience of co-partners.” The Latest Example displays the full question.
With my question in place, I set about producing two “bookends”: the two extreme, “yin and yang” options that would not only set limits on any overall option picture, but also tease my intuitive mind to draw upon its creativity to come up with other plausible options. Our intuition doesn’t respond well to way-out options, so will quickly start looking for the more feasible ones. After a degree of deliberation, two bookends emerged: “Start from scratch again, which would likely cause my partners to opt out,” and “Make it happen, no matter the costs: even if that meant everyone attending for free.” My intuition pretty quickly started aggressively rejecting these, but now started searching for alternatives.
Now I set about producing at least five potential options; these can be viewed in the Latest Example. My third choice was: “Postpone for one month and fix the technical issues.” My other four options are to be found in the Latest Example. Putting this picture together made me feel much better prepared for the forthcoming conference call with my partners, as well as enabled me to test all the ideas on them.
At some point we allowed for some “emotional distancing” by discussing other issues and then returned to consider our best option in the circumstances. It’s not fair to share our choice, since you weren’t exactly in our shoes. In any event, we did proceed with the workshop as planned and it was pretty successful.
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 is our best option for reducing vehicle claims?’” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)