What’s our best option if our current proposal is turned down: using Option Solving?

During a recent client meeting the President was ruminating over the possibility of her company losing a good customer due to misunderstandings and mis-perceptions, rather than lack of competence. She had reviewed the whole situation with her VP Sales and they were about to visit their customer’s decision maker to see if they could turn things around. I introduced the President to option solving as a mechanism to understand their possibilities at such a meeting.

She initially worked with me to develop a rational question and considerations – the first step of option solving – so as to spark likely possibilities. After some discussion her question looked like this: “What are our options if our latest proposal is turned down: considering 1) we’ve developed a reasonably positive relationship, 2) felt our last activity went well, 3) have repaired relations with a detractor, and  4) there’s still good work to be done?” Note that I encouraged her to restrict the number of considerations to 50% of our list, so as not to make her question overly complex.

Now her question was in place, we created two appropriate likely yin and yang “bookends” to aid forming a framework for her to produce viable options. These bookends were as follows: “Walk away with bad feelings” and “Offer to do another pro-bono assignment.” These were the least likely possibilities, for reasons indicated – go to our Latest Worked Example – but they would do the job of stimulating my President-client to come up with more likely options.

Normally option solving requires participants to come-up with a minimum of five options, in order to glean the minimum number of helpful options. My client and I produced a sixth option to allow any of her team to inject its proposal(s).This would help pull her players into their decision process. You can see these six alternatives in our Latest Example – click on that tab – where one is: “Option D: Continue activities with other executives within customer’s organization.”

I encouraged my client to take this pictogram back to her team and get their buy-in and input before requesting team members to put the pictogram aside for some emotional distancing. Emotional distancing is time where they focus on other issues for a while as they allow their powerful intuitions sub-consciously mull over their options. At an appropriate moment, they would reconvene, reconsider their options, and then anonymously – via paper ballot – put in their vote. (NOTE: Anonymous voting is important to encourage objective responses). Which option would you choose if you were one of her team?

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: “Choosing an optimum picture for an article?” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger. Also consider buying the book: “Smart Decisions: Goodbye Problems, Hello Options” through amazon.com)


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