Retaining a key family member in the business: using Option Solving?

At recent meeting of two business partners, I found myself talking with them about one of their daughters who was working in their company as marketing director. She had left a career in the police force a year or so back and joined the company as part of the next generation leadership and to fix some of their sales and marketing issues. She had done an excellent job so far but was having a difficult time settling down, partly because it was a challenging transition into the commercial world and partly because she was having a difficult time accepting the team of key colleagues she found herself part of. (NOTE: This is not unusual for people leaving the police, fire service or military.) The partners didn’t want to lose her, if at all possible.

Having participated in prior option solving sessions, we readily developed an appropriate question. This commenced with What, since what would challenge the partners to switch to their creative intuitive minds, which are so much more powerful than their rational minds. Our question also included picking four considerations out of seven. (NOTE: It could have been three, at around the 50% mark, but they called on four instead.) Their Latest Example Option Solving Picture shows the four chosen: two of which were, “Her frustration with colleagues” and “She’s a strong willed personality.”

Their question then provoked two yin and yang “bookends,” designed to create a clear option solving framework: as well as get their creative intuitive juices fired-up. You will notice them in our Latest Example as, “Let her leave” and “Let her push out the colleagues she doesn’t respect.” These were both clear options, but their example will show why they were very unlikely. Rejection of these bookends aided the priming of their intuitions to find more realistic options.

Now their example shows that they created a picture of five realistic options: two of which were, “Bring more into the inner circle” – Option B, and “Suggest she starts a series of Ned, Bernie and Key Team social gatherings” – Option D. It is normal to produce at least five options, in order to stretch all participants’ creative juices. By doing so, it enabled the partners to feel they had exhausted all appropriate possibilities.

At this point, we resorted to emotional distancing by turning over their option solving picture to allow time for their intuitive minds to review the depths of their past experiences for parallel options and successes. We allowed for a 15 minute break to find the bathrooms and chat about other issues. Then we returned to their uncovered option solving picture, where they were asked to take a snapshot review and pick one of the five realistic options. The term picture is intentionally used, as our intuitive minds prefer to absorb pictures more than words.

Once they made their choice, I invited them to either consider Next Steps or continue with a Peel the Onion exercise (where they would take their chosen option and redo the complete option solving exercise again to find a set of sub-options to choose from). Since they chose the latter, we will deal with that “Peeling the Onion” exercise in the next blog.

It is preferable to “Peel the Onion” while participants are still focused on the particular issue at hand: or at least do it shortly thereafter. Once this done then participants can consider going back to Next Steps.  

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: “Peeling the Onion with: Retaining a key family member in the business?” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to to connect with the blogger.)


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