Peel the Onion: How Executive Handles Restructuring: using Option Solving?

When I caught back up with the executive charged with merging his business unit  into a close, synergistic relationship with another subsidiary, he informed me that he’d decided to go with ‘Option D: Guide, negotiate and set in-place new joint activities by mid-year and then exit the organization by year-end.’ With this decision, he then realized he had to make another key decision on how to play that scenario. So we immediately reverted to the Peel the Onion approach to achieve that.

With his pre-existing know-how around option solving, he was immediately able to formulate an appropriate rational question: “Option D: What is my best sub-option for ‘Setting things in place and exit by year end’; considering 1) need to hold my decision close-to-vest, 2) whether parent group will be respectful of my decision, 3) remain loyal to my team to the end, and 4) will it undermine my relation with current boss?”  As is usual with this approach,  there were several other considerations but these were the most pre-eminent ones. The others were set aside for the time being, so as not to over-complicate any decisions at this juncture.

Now he had this question in place, it was time to explore the most appropriate yin and yang “bookends” – see our worked example. Such bookends would frame any final choices and nudge his creativity for producing an optimum number of alternatives. His final sub- bookends  were, “Not hang around come mid-year” and “Seek lesser position within parent organization at year end or before.” Take a look at our Latest worked Example to see why these two bookends were the least practicable. At the same time, you will see why they sparked his creative juices for developing interesting, practical alternatives.

He then set about producing at least five realistic alternatives. Five being the minimal number required for him to shoot for, so as to stretch his mind as much as possible in order to identify his optimum sub-option. You can view his five alternatives in our Latest Example: one of them being: “Option E: Announce desire for a key role within parent org. before year end.”

Based upon this “pictogram,” I encouraged him to take another time-out so asto subconsciously reflect on his sub-options. Again, he turned to emotional distancing. A couple of hours later he was back to share his sub-option preference, but we’ll leave that for you to surmise Again, he took advantage of his rational mind to ask the question and his intuitive mind to generate the optimal option.

It is more than possible that he could repeat and contemplate a sub-sub-option to further delineate his optimum path forward. Even so, at this juncture he decided on his best sub-option, relative to his rational question and considerations; and then put together an action initiative, while things were still fresh in his mind.  Which sub-option would you have chosen in the circumstances?

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: “Hiring and introducing new VP Sales?” 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” through


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