What do we do with our failing company – using Option Solving?”

I had the misfortune just recently to catch up with a former client, who got hit very hard post the Great Recession through DOD cutbacks. It was growing and running pretty hard even until 2011 and then a year later its “pipeline” had virtually disappeared. Although I had long encouraged them to commercialize their know-how, too, they had many false starts and had minimal success for whatever reason. Their VC investors immediately tore into the operation, pushed them to cut back, and inserted a trusted executive to oversee the operation.

At some point, the trusted executive dropped out of the picture and the partners set-up a new management arrangement among themselves, which was unpopular among certain members, so their partnership became even more dysfunctional. The banks were also breathing down their necks, so they were being squeezed to find a new option.

I have offered to do an option solving exercise with them and, until they are ready, decided to work through what their options might be in advance. So my first task was to establish the right question, based upon my insider knowledge. This came out as follows: “What is our best option to rescue our failing company: considering that we have a dysfunctional partner team, our DOD market has imploded over the past 2 years, our current pipeline is very thin, our bankers/equity holders are pressing us very hard, and we have not been able to capitalize on commercial market opportunities yet?” There were other considerations, but I decided these were the most important ones.

Now I had this rational question to trigger my enormously powerful intuitive mind, as per every other human, I then needed two outlier “bookends:” both as outer limit options and to prompt a cast of more likely options for consideration. The two outliers I devised were: “Keep going as we are,” at one end, with, “Find a new, neutral executive to run our company” at the other. I have shown why these wouldn’t work in our Latest Example, even though they are still clearly options, but were out of the question. Nevertheless, they would spur me to come up with other option ideas.

I knew I had to come up with at least five options, to stretch my creative mind and the possibilities as far as is practicable. If it’s possible to come up with more, that’s good, too. You can see what I considered as their likely choices in our Latest Example. One of my choices was: “Get partners focused on a new promising path” – Option A. Can you come up with others?
If I get the opportunity to share this with them, I will encourage them to come up with other options, encourage them to take some emotional distancing time, and then reach a consensus on their favored option. Because of its importance, there may be some negotiation over their consensus choice as is appropriate. Even so, they need to reach a choice at that moment in time and then move forward.

Once they have that choice in hand, they can then assemble an action initiative to implement as soon as practicable. With luck, it might create some renewed unity among this disparate group of partners.

If you have an issue example of your own that you wish to be solved, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area.
Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Giving more independence to a learning disabled adult?” We’re always interested in your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

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