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.)


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