“Peeling the Onion”: Best train option in Milan: using Option Solving?

Having decided on Option A in prior blog –“Don’t bother with advance tickets – buy on the spot” – my wife and I proceeded on our journey to Milan. We had booked to catch the first of two daily trains between Milan and Nice, France at 11:05 AM. However, once aboard our plane in New York we experienced a ground delay of 2½ hours which would put us at least 1½ hrs late at Milan’s Malpensa airport. It would take us 52 mins. by commuter train to reach Milan’s Central Station to catch our train to Nice.

I spent much of our overnight flight contemplating our options, in between naps, with occasionally consulting a worried wife. I mapped out our question as follows: “What is our best sub-option bet in view of a late plane arrival in Milan’; considering 1) wait 3½ hrs for only other train to Nice, 2) getting a refund on train tickets, 3) expense of other options, and 4) communication difficulties in foreign country?” We had other considerations as well, but these were our main ones without overly complicating our situation.

With this question in mind, I contemplated two likely yin and yang “bookends” to act as our framework for all other viable options. These bookends were as follows: “Put our hands in divine providence” and “Hire a helicopter.” Neither of these were viable options in the circumstances, even though they are clearly options – see our Latest Worked Example. However, these “bookends” were useful for challenging our intuitive minds to come up with the most likely viable options.

I eventually produced the minimum of five options, so as to stretch our possibilities as much as possible. I asked my wife for her thoughts, when there was an interlude between in-flight movies J,  so she would feel included. From these alternatives in our Latest Example, you can see one is: “Option C: Rent a car and drive 5-6 hours to Nice.”

Our emotional distancing occurred as we were coming in to land, with another retake depending on how long it would take to collect our bags. Emotional distancing would allow us to sub-consciously mull over all five options combined with our initial question.

Fortunately our bags came through pretty quickly, since we were in business class, so we made our choice of “Option DHope for a miracle and still catch planned train in 1hr 15 minutes time.” Which option would you have chosen?

Fortunately the miracle happened, as our train was 5 minutes late in leaving, in an absolutely packed train station, with the additional challenge of traversing 19 platforms with suitcases. A helpful rail worker helped us to discern the required platform.

If you have an example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area.  Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting will be in two weeks time: “An executive’s leadership options.” 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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Best train option in Milan: using Option Solving?

Virtually a month ago my wife and I were facing a travel dilemma our planned arrival at Milan Malpensa airport eleven days ahead, and intent to use a rail link to Milan’s Central station, prior to catching a train to Nice, France. There was method in our madness of making this inter-country play, which I won’t bore you with. Since we would be tired from an overnight flight, we wanted to catch the mid-morning train – one of two trains per day. That would leave us a 3 hour window to catch our onward train once we arrived at Malpensa. We tried several times to book tickets through the train company’s Website, to save on-the-spot time, but the site seemed to be malfunctioning and so our dilemma multiplied.

With that I resorted to Option Solving to resolve our time-travel dilemma of getting between Malpensa and Milan Central. The question I came up with looked like this: “What is our best option for a Milan Airport to Milan Central Trenord train: considering 1) the convenience of having tickets in advance, 2) Trenord’s Website is malfunctioning, 3) will possibly require an overseas call, 4) likely language difficulties, and 5) limited time window for our mainline connection” There were other considerations as well, but these were our key ones without making things overly complicated.

Now that our question was ready, I produced two likely yin and yang “bookends” to act as our framework for any viable options. These bookends were as follows: “Take a taxi” and “Rent a car at airport instead.” Neither of these would clearly resolve our issue, given the circumstances, even though they are clearly options – see our Latest Worked Example. However, these “bookends” are used to help stimulate the minds of any participant’s intent on solving their dilemmas through more optimal solutions, since they are provocative.

I then produced a minimum of five options, so as to stretch our possibilities as much as possible to figure-out a minimal number of helpful options. I would then ask my wife for her suggestion so she would feel included and more likely buy-into our final choice. From the six given alternatives in our Latest Example, excluding my wife’s proposal, you can see one is: “Option E: Call New York Italian tourist office for other booking options.”

When we author our next blog in two weeks, you will see my wife’s contribution in the pictogram, as well as learn about our emotional distancing activity to allow our intuitions to choose our best option. Emotional distancing would allow us to sub-consciously mull over all six options combined with our initial question. Once we made our choice, the chances are we may have to consider Peeling the Onion to figure out the best sub-options for implementing that choice. At least we were now ready to handle the situation. Which option would you have chosen?

If you have an example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area.  Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting will be in two weeks time. It will further deal with our travel issue through: “Peeling the Onion: Our best train option in Milan, Italy?” 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)