That 70th Birthday Celebration – using Option Solving?”

A friend was recently struggling to determine what to do for his/her spouse’s 70th birthday celebration. After some discussion, we agreed that his/her best solution was to get some input from the spouse by way of option solving. We figured that if the spouse could be presented with some potential options, in the form of a pictogram, not only could he/she add some additional ideas of their own, but he/she would also give some strong indications of their preferences in the circumstances.

And so, after a quick run through all the steps involved, we set about producing an appropriate question and pictogram. When it came to the question, we came up with the following rationale after due deliberation: “What is your preferred choice for your 70th Birthday; considering it might not be the most auspicious life-mark, it will be very close to a major trip, funds will be somewhat tight, it’s always an opportunity to involve family and friends, other spouse would rather not highlight his/her own age, and it will be a likely day at work?” There were other key considerations, but we chose to keep these to 50% of the total so as to minimize question complexity.

Now we had this question at hand, we were in a position to come-up with two outlier “bookends.” Bookends provide the extreme limits in options to which the participant will go. They also provide a spur to the participants’ intuitive imagin-ation to come-up with a range of more realistic options. The two outliers we created were: “Don’t celebrate at all,” at one end, with, “Big bash for all” at the other. The unacceptability of these are given in our Latest Example.

Since the name of the game in option solving is to come-up with at least five alternatives, to stretch the possibilities and make use of the intuitive mind’s creativity, we did produce five. However, as you can see in our Latest Example, I advised my friend to create two open ellipses for his/her spouse to come up with a couple of ideas of their own. This would further create buy-in and eke out other preferences. You can see all of this in our Latest Example. Can you come up with others?

I then advised him/her to share this pictogram with his/her spouse and see if other options emerged. Once they were all in place, my friend should then encourage his/her spouse to sleep on it and give him/her their preference the following morning. One other option would be to ask the spouse to give two preferences, so there might be at least some element of surprise when the day came around.

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: “Peeling the Onion for that 70th Birthday Celebration?” We’re always interested in your COMMENTS or go to to connect with the blogger.)


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