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 to connect with the blogger.)



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