Peeling the Onion – Do we allow ourselves to become a dealer for an overseas supplier: using Option Solving?

Last time, we talked about working with a group of business leaders, who were helping one of its members resolve the issue of whether or not his company should become a dealer for an overseas supplier. Having gone through the option solving exercise, they came up with six plausible options. After some emotional distancing time the group made its selection: in fact it was option C – “Evaluate Product and Plant.” Once they did so, they opted for a Peeling the Onion exercise rather than figure out Next Steps.

After a reasonable break, they produced another comprehensive question with considerations, which looked like this: What is our  optimal approach to evaluate an overseas supplier’s product and plant, considering the supplier’s  sensitivity to such action, making it a productive exercise, and the possibility of jeopardizing the deal?” The considerations were three of the most important out of five possible.

Working in two sub-groups of four once again, to maximize participation and create some comparative thinking,  they now set about producing two yin and yang “bookends;” so as to form another option framework. The two they agreed upon were, Take a chance on product and plant” – see our latestexample. The other was, Request full product and service guarantees for 6 mths.” Review of the latest example shows why both were out of the question.

These fresh bookends quickly provoked each sub-group to start discussing more plausible alternatives. Our latest example shows  that they came up with five options: one of which was, Request to visit with their other overseas dealers; wherever” – Option B. Again, they were challenged to produce at least five options, so as to stretch their thinking as much as possible.

Once their option solving picture was in place, they moved into some emotional distancing  time to allow their intuitive minds to subconsciously work through their complete range of options. This included shutting the picture away from view and discussing other topics.

Ten minutes later, the projector shutter was opened to reveal the option solving picture  and allow the group to quickly review it and make its collective choice through an individual, confidential vote.

By peeling the onion they took their colleagues dilemma one more step and figured out how to maximize their initial collective decision: “Evaluate the suppliers Product and Plant.” At this point they immediately figured out the Next Steps their colleague should consider.

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: “Best way for a senior team to communicate to meet its commitments?” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

 

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Do we allow ourselves to become a dealer for an overseas supplier: using Option Solving?

Recently I was with an Option Solving group that was helping other participants resolve key dilemmas. Oneparticipant brought up a tough issue that was testing him and his business colleagues: Should they become a dealer for an overseas suppler that might have some impact on their current business activities? The other participants clearly saw it as a hot topic so decided to pursue it.

Having already been introduced to option solving through a typical example, they knew their first step was to produce a comprehensive question, which started with: What is our best approach toward deciding on becoming an X-country dealer, considering…” Following which they came up with six particularly important considerations out of a total list of twelve – two of which were, Potential quality issues” and “Not tested in the US market place” –see our Latest Example for the others. (NOTE: It is always advisable to cut any list of considerations by 50%, notwithstanding uneven numbers, so as to make the question as straight forward as possible.)

The participants had been split into two sub-groups of four in each, to maximize participation and create some comparative thinking. So, having put their overall question in place, the two sub-groups were requested to produce two yin and yang “bookends,” so as to form an option framework and to flush out unlikely extremes. After some group discussion, they came to a consensus on two, Don’t work with X-country at all” – see our latestexample. The other was, Become an exclusive dealer.” Their example indicates why these were both out of the question.

Such bookends quickly provoked each sub-group to start discussing more reasonable alternatives. You will notice that they came up with six tenable options: one of which was, Sell only to cost sensitive clients” – Option D. Between them they were challenged to come up with at least five options, so as to stretch their thinking as much as possible – see latest example.

With their option solving picture now in place, they knew it was time for some emotional distancing  to permit space for their intuitive minds to chew over the complete picture. So we closed off the LCD projector for about ten to fifteen minutes and spent more time talking through the option solving process and why it is so powerful. Meantime, their intuitive minds were working overtime to subconsciously think through the thousands of similar experiences they had come across during the course of their lives.

After about fifteen minutes, the projector was fired up once more to display the option solving picture  and allow participants  to quickly scan it again to refresh their thinking. Each participant then made a confidential choice and wrote it on a small “post-it” and handed it over to me with no discussion, at this point.

In fact they came up with two choices, although one had more votes than the other. We then discussed whether they wanted to “Peel the Onion” or figure out “Next Steps,” while all related factors were hot on their minds. They chose to “Peel the Onion,” so we will explore this in our next blog in two weeks time.

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: “Peel the Onion: Do we allow ourselves to become a dealer for an overseas supplier?” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)