Shall We Sell our Business – using Option Solving?”

Less than three weeks ago, I was sitting with two family members who were contemplating whether to sell their business to an unsolicited buyer of considerable means. Although they had been invited to sell their business on several occasions before, mainly to competitors, the price either wasn’t particularly enticing or they feared for what would become of their hardworking , if their company was indeed purchased by someone within their industry.

This time around those particular barriers did not exist to anywhere near the same extent. It was a surprise discussion between the three of us, although quickly evolved into a natural option solving exercise. At that particular moment, they were only considering maybe two or three decision options.

Fortunately the two owners were already familiar with the technique, so it required minimum discussion to move them toward coming up with a comprehensive question. After some deliberation and drawing up a listing of considerations, it turned out to be: “What is our best option relative to a recent purchase offer: considering we have a tempting number, are too young to retire, it should be beneficial to our people, the number is not sufficient to make investment plays, it presents an opportunity to do something different, and due-diligence is not yet done?” These were about 50% of the key considerations listed. Both positive and less positive considerations were incorporated so as to take a balanced approach.

With this figured out, we threesome then turned to creating the least likely Yin and Yang “bookends,” which not only formed an outer framework but were far-fetched enough to stimulate our creative intuitions into producing more plausible options. “Bookends” produced by our threesome were: “We become part of the acquired executive team,” at one end, with, “Continue with building the company and hand over to the next generation” at the other. In our Latest Example you can see why the family members thought these were least likely.

As a threesome, we were now in the position to derive-develop at least five plausible options and, as you can see, we ended up with eight. This really stretched the possibilities that the two family members would probably have never considered, if they hadn’t called on option solving. One of those options was: “Postpone decision with purchaser for 2 yrs to strengthen hand – give offer of 1st refusal at that time”… which was Option G, again, in our Latest Example. Which one would you have chosen in the circumstances?

I left them to sleep on their options. I encouraged them to look at the Latest Example pictogram before they went to sleep and then revisit it as soon as they woke up. Whichever option they were drawn to, should be up for serious consideration. If they came up with two options, then they were to discuss-debate these for some time and then sleep on those two choices again. Once more, when they awoke, they would choose between the two. From there they would probably reach a consensus.

At this point, it was key for them not to change their minds or second-guess themselves. If they were to do that, they would not only be over-riding the precious intuitive decision making gift that they have, but they will also then be back in a full, never ending quandary. Once your intuitive mind is made up, it’s important to stick with it, even if it’s far from a perfect solution. It will be one that you will learn to live with and, over time, you will feel that you made the optimum decision.

Once they reached that consensus choice, they should consider whether to “peel the onion” for further sub-options to their choice, or set about producing action steps while the exercise was very much in the forefront of their thinking. Let’s assume they chose the former -Peel the Onion -, we can then pursue what that will look like in two weeks.

If you have an issue 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 – Shall we sell our business?” We’re always interested in your COMMENTS or go to to connect with the blogger.)


Nudging Our Boss Forward – using Option Solving?”

(Note: We decided to pick up on this option solving example owing to its interest to so many in the organizational world.)

A recent senior team retreat, designed to help with team building and find better ways to “light fires within people,” appeared to go well but then reality set in. Delays in producing team notes and getting John – the leader of the retreat – re-engaged in the retreat output signaled that all was not well. Fortunately, the project external advisor had asked the team to anonymously volunteer one of its participants to be the overall coordinator. The team chose Mary, for reasons that will become apparent later. Mary wasn’t immediately available after the retreat owing to a personal situation.

When the advisor finally got together with Mary, she revealed how unhappy and frustrated the team were with the project, because they were disgruntled with John’s leadership (he was a relative newcomer) and they felt this project was just another re-iteration of what he had required many times before. Everyone was extremely busy and they didn’t have the time for additional tasks. The advisor was totally unaware of these undercurrents beforehand because John had never signaled the possibilities of a backlash. From what the advisor found out, John probably wasn’t even aware of his people’s feelings either.

The advisor now turned to Mary to inquire about possible options as a means to finding a way forward. To do this they devised the following question: “What is our best option for nudging our boss (John) forward, considering our team is rather frustrated with him, he doesn’t seem fully engaged, he demonstrates minimal follow-through, he doesn’t appreciate our efforts: but he does keep us informed , and seems like a decent person?” There were many other considerations, although more were to the less positive side, so the ones given here are roughly the key 50% of those listed. They tried to list both positive and less positive considerations to take a balanced approach.

Now they had figured this out, they then turned to creating two Yin and Yang “bookends” to become their most unlikely options as a framework, which would assist them in producing the more likely options. Our Latest Example shows these, along with reasons as to why these two extreme options didn’t “cut it.” The “bookends” produced by the duo were: “Drop our latest project all together,” at one end, with, “Do the whole exercise again, with his (John’s) better participation” at the other. You can see why the duo thought these were rather unlikely.

Mary and the advisor were now ready to develop at least five alternatives for building a picture of the most plausible options. One of those options: “Advisor and John talk, then conference call with Mary to discuss options” …. which was Option B, can be found in our Latest Example. Which one would you choose in the circumstances?

With their Option Solving pictogram now in place, Mary and the advisor took an emotional distancing break overnight to allow their minds to work through all the trade-offs associated with their options. They then went back to their picture and, after quickly absorbing it, made their choice. While the whole topic was still hot on their minds, they opted for creating a proposed action initiative. When you have made your choice, you can also make an action initiative.

If you have an issue example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area.
Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Shall we sell our business?” We’re always interested in your COMMENTS or go to to connect with the blogger.)