Best option for bringing greater family unity: using Option Solving?


Not so long ago, a family firm was struggling to keep all the key players on the same page, regarding the company’s future. There were naturally different points of view, although one member in particular was playing a ‘cat and mouse game’ in terms of a constructive role. Fortunately, the key players were already familiar with the option solving approach, consequently we were able to go straight for formulating an appropriate question.

It was agreed to work out initial, likely options with certain family members, minus the current outsider,  and then have a subsequent meeting with the outlier. So, after a certain amount of debate, the initial group devised the question: “What is our best option for unifying our top family team onto the same page; considering we all bring important expertise to the party, we have much to gain from unity, our opportunities for growth are exciting, and it would aid the company harmony?” The considerations indicated, reflect the most important ones, although there were others, too..

Now that their question was in place, they knew they had to propose two “bookends”  for the purpose of framing their range of options. Bookends are used as extreme options, so were the least likely to be chosen. Nevertheless, they would be important for instigating more realistic options at the right moment. The starter group’s two bookends, as a “Yin” and “Yang” combination, were finalized as:: “Sell our business as is” at one end and “Merge with a major competitor” at the other. You can see how these were most unlikely to be chosen in our Latest Example.

The initial group were now ready to consider their most realistic options, although they knew they had to come up with at least five for exploring their most likely possibilities. It’s very important to keep going until five or more emerge, to be pretty sure you have flushed out a good range of choices. That helps imaginative thinking. Their “pictogram” started to take shape… see Latest Example. A pictogram is important to help stimulate their creative intuition, since our intuition responds better to pictures than words. Also, it is their intuition that will respond with all sorts of creative options.

As you will see in our Latest Example, there is a sixth ellipse with “Others?” This is to allow the outlier family member to propose another option or options when the time comes. So now the family participants were left to find an opportune moment with their outlier member, to share this pictogram, and then request that family person reveal any other hidden possibilities. One of the options turned out to be: “Pursue a David and Goliath expansion strategy”…Option D…

 see our Latest Example.

Once all is revealed  and the additional family member puts in their option(s), then everyone can take some emotional distancing, by shutting the picture out from their view for at least 10-15 mins, prior to testing the entire  family’s  joint best option. By working this way, the outlier is given the chance to reveal their possibilities and feels fully included in the final decision. Maybe more of us should take this approach, even with non-family outliers.

Once the joint option is revealed, family members can then work-out an action initiative to implement.

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: “Best option for re-establishing my leadership credibility ?” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ to connect with the blogger. Also consider buying the book: “Smart Decisions: Goodbye Problems, Hello Options.”)


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