Welcome to Option Solving (for dealing with your Decision Dilemmas) -also see latest examples below;and many more.


See below, “Peeling the Onion: Our best business focus for 2018?”  At our next blog in two weeks, we will deal with: “What would be the best option to handle a potential customer situation?”  Also, go to http://www.youtube.com and type in Option Solving and go for the 1 min 48 sec version: this will refer you to OSOLing (Option Solving On-line: a virtual way to deal with your Dilemmas)READ ABOUT THE INTERESTING, WIDE-RANGING APPLICATIONS BELOW: including the latest blog. Go to SUBSCRIBE email-to your left, if you want regular notification of blog updates.

Read the book, Smart Decisions: Goodbye Problems, Hello Options. And visit the author’s main website at www.ileadershipsolutions.com

Peter Arthur-Smith, Originator of Option Solving

Peter Arthur-Smith, Originator of Option Solving

Daniel H. Pink, author of business best seller “A Whole New Mind”, with new book “Drive” says, “Peter Arthur-Smith has produced a savvy and practical book that will change how you approach the challenges in your business. By showing you the limits of ‘problem-solving’ and the power of whole-minded thinking. SMART DECISIONS will expand your strategies and widen your possibilities.”


What company chain will give us the most rapid leverage for sales re-alignment and growth: using Option Solving?

Some time back your editor was talking with a marketing person about their company’s fortunes. Sales were very slow and everyone was looking for answers to turn things around. Your editor suggested that he get a team of diverse people together from his company, who could make valuable contributions to a discussion about this issue. The more these participants were representative of different chains (sections of the company), the more likely they would come up with an optimum solution. Your editor then challenged him to have a crack at the issue beforehand using Option Solving, such that he could intelligently lead a group discussion when the moment came.

So, without further ado, he talked through the option solving approach and then set about producing a rational question to challenge his intuitive mind. This question proved to be: “What company chain will give us the most rapid leverage for sales re-alignment and growth: considering 1) some chains are better than others, 2) everything has become rather bureaucratic, 3) need to win senior executive support, and 4) will need a lot of focus, commit-ment and perspiration?” There were other considerations, too, but he was happy to go with the four listed, so that his decision didn’t become too complicated.

Now your editor challenged him to produce two “bookends,” which would function as his yin and yang extreme possibilities. Such bookends would then force his intuitive mind to focus on his company’s most realistic set of options. Without these bookends his fertile intuitive capability would tend to wander over all sorts of red-herrings.

Hence, the bookends he selected were: “Don’t interfere with current chains” and “Completely re-align all chains,” both of which he felt were his company’s least likely options – see our Latest Worked Example.

He was then encouraged to produce at least five realistic options to potentially stretch his choices as much as possible, although, when he comes to such an exercise with his own representative group, he should side with their options first, otherwise they are unlikely to play ball. You will notice he came up with six.  Look at our Latest Example and you can view his six options, one of those proposed was: “Option D – Map-out, re-align and fire-up technical support and service chains.”

With his “pictogram” now in place, indicating his range of six options, it was now time for him to engage in some emotional distancing. Emotional distancing would allow his intuitive mind to sub-consciously ponder his array of options, now they were evident. Your editor encouraged him to set his pictogram aside for a couple hours and focus on something else, while his intuitive mind subconsciously reviewed his possibilities. By doing this, he would directly see the benefits of doing the same with any “brains trust” he put together to weigh this important issue.

When he subsequently returned to his face-down “pictogram,” he turned it face-up, studied it for a few moments refresher, and then made his intuitive choice. Which one would you have chosen? He was now ready to try the same option solving approach with any group that he put together.

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 week’s time: “What would be the most valuable approach our Internet marketing organization could take today to increase its performance effectiveness?” 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)

Running effective Board meetings: using Option Solving

On participating in a recent sub-group meeting of an international board, it became clear that board Members had a range of possibilities in running their meetings more effectively. Whatever solution they arrived at, they would have to attain wider member endorsement as well as convince their time-strapped colleagues that any future meetings would be more content and time-effective.

I put together a paper outlining some options I thought may be of interest to this sub-group for them to consider once back at home. Subsequently, I thought it might be helpful to them, as well as other thousands of Board members out there, to view it as an option solving exercise. Option Solving can prove highly useful when solving tough dilemmas because it allows participants to utilize their highly powerful intuitive capabilities. (NOTE: Our natural intuitive abilities are natures gift for making the right calls.)

The first step toward making the right choice is to utilize our rational minds in coming up with the right question. The right question enables the effective challenging of our natural intuitive capabilities to come up with an appropriate choice. The question I chose, for their consideration, was as follows, which you can view in our Latest Example, was: “What will be our best alternative to running our Board more effectively; considering that our Board Members are not comfortable with our current approach, they don’t have the advantage of regular face-to-face meetings to negotiate an optimal approach, there’s a strong desire among Members to find a more effective means, and the Board is small enough to reach a reasonable consensus?” I came up with more than the four considerations given, but these seemed like the most important ones. It is important to show the right considerations to help frame the issue properly.

Once I had this question in place, it was time to develop two bookends (find out more about these from the book). The most likely bookends seemed to be: 1) Pursue a freewheeling meeting approach, as the Yin, and then the Yang at the other end 2) Start from scratch to devise a completely different meeting approach. The idea behind bookends is to choose extreme options that are least likely to be acceptable, so they prompt our minds to come up with the most realistic but creative options.

Once I put these bookends into place, I aimed to produce at least five options; as a way of stretching me to come up with a good range of options. By looking at our latest example, you will see that one option is to: “Pursue competence focused Operations and Strategic meetings”…Option D. Four other considered options are there, as well as an open item for group members to come up with their own additional option(s).

When the group members take a look at this and add any other appropriate options, without debating whether any of them should be there or not – since the option solving technique honors all suggested options, so as to spur new ideas and encourage people to participate – then they should allow time for emotional distancing. Emotional distancing allows them to step away from the pictogram completely and turn to something else. This could be for 10-20 minutes or sleep on it overnight.

Emotional distancing allows the enormous power of the intuitive mind to subconsciously mull over the pictogram, since it prefers interpreting pictures, to relate the given options to all prior similar experiences. When Group participants return to the pictogram, after their emotional distancing break, they will be drawn to one of the options. Group members should then share their choice.

Whichever item gets the most votes should be the choice of the group, unless there are other mitigating factors. They should then draw up an immediate action initiative for that chosen option, while everything is fresh within their thinking, and move forward accordingly. Maybe you have your own choice?

If you have an option solving example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area.
Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Career decisions, again!” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

Peeling the Onion: President Obama resolving his immediate Syrian dilemma: by means of Option Solving!

In the last blog, we contemplated what option President Obama and his team would pursue to punish Syria for its recent chemical weapons attack. At that time, he was suddenly presented with a fresh option requiring Syria to surrender and sequester all its chemical weapons. With pursuing that option, we gave his team the opportunity to Peel the Onion for determining what might be its best alternative for doing this successfully. As we have already acquainted them with the Option Solving technique, we can use their rational minds to create a question for their intuitive minds to answer. Intuition, based upon the best rationale, becomes the best judge.

Their proposed question was as follows: “What is President Obama’s best option for co-opting the international community to sequester Syria’s chemical weapons, considering the difficulties of implementation and verification, what countries can be trusted to take part, the preference for a political rather than a military solution, and getting the full support of the UN Security Council?” The second half of the question is devoted to the various considerations that the Obama team had to take into account. Although there were more than four, the four given here represent 50% of the most important ones of those listed.

He and his team then came up with two Yin and Yang “bookends” to frame their forthcoming more pertinent options. The reasons for not considering these “outliers” are shown in our Latest Example. Take a look at the two they prod-uced: “No international agreement,” at one end, with, “Ignore the existence of a CW stockpile” at the other. It’s clear why these weren’t considered, but they helped to stimulate six other more plausible options.

You can view Mr. Obama and his team’s six options, between the bookends, one of which was: “Allow the UN to take the lead on the CW sequester program”…option E. They decided to take some emotional distancing time overnight before reconvening by phone the following day to take a consensus decision. From there they put together an action plan to ensure the whole deal would come to pass.

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: “A key executive is forced out of his position: what options does he have?” We’re always interested in your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

What can I do to win the cooperation of an important alliance: using Option Solving?

It wasn’t so long ago that I was discussing with a senior operations executive about his challenge of building a more productive relationship with a key business alliance. He advised me that the entity in question wasn’t that easy to work with, owing to the personalities involved, even though the prize of an effective relationship would be considerable for both parties.
It was only natural to encourage this executive to think about his own style of operating, for him to understand to what extent he was either helping or hindering things. Unfortunately, as is the case with a number of executives, his rather brusque and domineering style was clearly not helping the situation. Even so, I thought, if I could get him to come up with positive solution, perhaps I could also encourage him to look at his own style in the mix.
By explaining to him the option solving technique, he was intrigued to work with it as a way on unearthing a viable solution. After running through the various 6-7 steps, we set out to create the most appropriate question starting with: What can I do to win the cooperation of an important alliance: considering…?
Together we produced a listing of five considerations and he decided to incorp-orate all of them, which included: “The financial sensitivities involved, egos at stake, safety issues involved, need to optimize reliability, and the huge prize of success. Go to the blog’s Latest Example to see the question in full.
Now his question was ready, he set about producing two “bookends”. Two extreme, “yin and yang” options that would test his intuitive mind to reject them in a search for more appropriate options. Simultaneously, they would also set limits on the range of option possibilities. After some thought and discussion, two bookends emerged: “Get rid of current alliance (although there were few viable alternatives available),” and “Do it ourselves (this would mean a major invest-ment).”
His intuition could not buy-into these extreme options, so he quickly started searching for alternatives. Note how he qualified each extreme stance with a rationale as to why they were unacceptable: a further nudge to his intuitive powers. With these testy “bookends,” his intuitive mind started racing to find better options.
You will observe how he produced an interesting range of 5 options, which can be viewed in the blog’s Latest Example. One of them included: “Stand back and be hands off.” You will notice he came up with four other rather thoughtful options, also to be found in our Latest Example.
We took a break for about 15 minutes to permit some “emotional distancing.” We discussed some other quite unrelated issues, with our original picture of options turned over on the table, so we could concentrate on something else for a while. It was important to allow his intuitive mind to work its subconscious magic and chew over the options, at the same time seeking comparisons from past experiences…all in a relative instant.
When we turned the sheet back over, he took a few moments (literally) to review the contents and then made his choice. This choice was to work best for him and the situation as he saw it. I didn’t waste this epiphany moment, since I used it to also talk about his own style as well as his next steps: both of which reinforced a positive outcome from his perspective. He could now, all of a sudden, see a clear way for moving forward, which is quite satisfying as you will already appreciate.
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: ‘What can I do to win a second chance?’ Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

What is our best option for minimizing vehicle claims: using Option Solving?

At a recent practitioner’s workshop, one of the participants raised his dilemma with other group members about his need to minimize vehicle claims from their users. He pointed how his company moves people’s cars to and fro from the US to other destinations in the world. The name of the game is to do this with minimal or no damage to the owner’s vehicle, which is not always easy due to logistics, passing them through third party port staff, and the actual shipping activity where you are subject to mother nature’s weather conditions.
For this reason, his company uses vehicle processing centers for cars to be brought to, properly “wrapped” and then loaded onto and off-loaded from ships. The cars are closely inspected when they arrive and leave inspection centers at both ends. However, owing to the nature of the vehicle owners, word can spread on how to take advantage of the system.
So with the aid of his workshop “buddies” they set out to solve how they could keep claims to a minimum: his advantage was that he would get input from people outside his business. Those people could also be users of his company’s system. The group set about developing the best question, which commenced with: “What is our best option for minimizing vehicle claims, considering…”
They then came up with a list of seven considerations and reckoned on making use four of them (a little more than 50%, since it was an odd number of considerations) – both constraints and opportunities – that included: “Need to sustain high client satisfaction, minimize financial losses, maximize employee education, and ensure we encourage good customer ‘ethical’ behavior.” The blog’s Latest Example shares the question in full.
Once they had their question ready, they knew they had to produce two “bookends”: two extreme, “yin and yang” options that would challenge their intuitive minds to reject in a search for more plausible options, but also set limits on their option picture’s range of possibilities. Their collective intuition would not accept extreme options, so would quickly start them searching for more feasible ones. Following some deliberation, two bookends emerged: “Status quo: continue to accept X% claims on delivery,” and “Terminate sub-performers: a major investment.” Note how they came up with extreme stances, but qualified each one to clarify what “status quo” or “terminate its own staff” would mean; rather than just state extreme options. With these provocative “bookends,” their intuitive minds went to work on better alternatives.
This group then created 5 alternative options; these can now be viewed in the blog’s Latest Example. Perhaps their most interesting choice was: “Have customers complete an inspection ‘pre-form.’” We can assume they were referring to users doing their own pre-inspection at the time of handing over their vehicle: this was offered by a group member who was not part of the company. Their other four options can be found in our Latest Example.
They broke off for about 10 minutes to allow for some “emotional distancing.” They went in different directions: refreshments, catch up with people on their cell phones, find the bathroom, or break off into other conversations. After 10 minutes, the issue sponsor was anxious to get them back and get their confidential votes. Their choice is not important to readers because you were not in their shoes and tempt you to second-guess them. Even so, it was clear the Vehicle Executive was pleased with the outcome because he received fresh perspectives and they had explored all reasonable options.
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: “Using Option Solving for an executive to decide, ‘What can I do to win the cooperation of an important alliance?’” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

What is our best option for still holding a workshop with time running out: using Option Solving?

It wasn’t so long ago that two workshop partners and I were debating over whether to continue with a planned option solving practitioner workshop. We had set everything up for a New Year launch, knowing that each of us would be individually facing a hectic spell early in the year before the run up to the work-shop. Despite our early promotional activities, prior to our respective hectic-spells: when we returned, our webpage wasn’t working properly and with few indications of responses. We were left with the awkward dilemma of what to do.
We organized a conference call to discuss the situation. But before that moment arrived, I decided to work through the situation privately in advance: another good use of option solving. Quite naturally I set about developing the best question, which started with: “What is our best option for continuing with our planned workshop, considering…” I then developed a list of seven considerations and decided to utilize four of them (a little more than 50%, being an odd number) – both constraints and opportunities – that included: “No firm commitments to date, a week to go before paying for room rental, five people had shown some interest, and reluctance to test patience of co-partners.” The Latest Example displays the full question.
With my question in place, I set about producing two “bookends”: the two extreme, “yin and yang” options that would not only set limits on any overall option picture, but also tease my intuitive mind to draw upon its creativity to come up with other plausible options. Our intuition doesn’t respond well to way-out options, so will quickly start looking for the more feasible ones. After a degree of deliberation, two bookends emerged: “Start from scratch again, which would likely cause my partners to opt out,” and “Make it happen, no matter the costs: even if that meant everyone attending for free.” My intuition pretty quickly started aggressively rejecting these, but now started searching for alternatives.
Now I set about producing at least five potential options; these can be viewed in the Latest Example. My third choice was: “Postpone for one month and fix the technical issues.” My other four options are to be found in the Latest Example. Putting this picture together made me feel much better prepared for the forthcoming conference call with my partners, as well as enabled me to test all the ideas on them.
At some point we allowed for some “emotional distancing” by discussing other issues and then returned to consider our best option in the circumstances. It’s not fair to share our choice, since you weren’t exactly in our shoes. In any event, we did proceed with the workshop as planned and it was pretty successful.
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: “Using Option Solving to decide on ‘What is our best option for reducing vehicle claims?’” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

What is my best option for motivating my current team: using Option Solving?

What is my best option for motivating my current team: using Option Solving?
A while back I found myself talking with a specialist team leader about his team and his best option for motivating them.
As we reviewed his situation, we moved toward outlining the appropriate question for his dilemma. We quickly came to a question starter: “What is my best option for motivating my current team, considering…”
I then encouraged him to list the relevant considerations, which were several, and he then picked the four most important ones, such as: “It’s a relatively inexperienced group, I have minimal resources at my disposal, I don’t wish to manufacture a situation, and I need to make my people’s motivation as durable as possible.” Look at the Latest Example to see his complete question.
Now we had the right question in place, he had to come up with two “bookends”…these were to be extreme options that would frame his overall option picture. We fairly quickly established these as: “Let team members do their own thing,” that is, find their own level of motivation, and “Shower them with kindness,” which was just as unlikely. Since these were extreme options, his intuitive mind began rejecting them by seeking more plausible ones.
With some nudging he came up with five options, which you can see in the Latest Example. His first one was: “Promote greater responsibility/accountability for their projects.” You can see the four other options in our Latest Example.
It was important at that point to invoke some “emotional distancing,” to allow his intuitive mind to reflect on his five alternatives compared to the question. So we talked about some unrelated issues for a while and then returned to the options picture he had created. By this time, his intuitive mind had had the opportunity to search through his past experiences to find similar situations and outcomes. Its ability to interpret his picture and make a choice was therefore almost immediate.
We won’t share his ultimate choice because that was something unique to his own circumstances. You could see real “peace of mind” coming with his chosen option because he had reviewed all the most reasonable options and picked the optimum solution: a big advantage with option solving.
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: “Using Option Solving to decide on ‘What is my best option for minimizing airline baggage fees?’” Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

Best option for dealing with a Company Hornet’s Nest: by means of Option Solving!

A short while ago I was discussing with a company executive about his new assignment. It sounded as though he was inheriting a real hornet’s nest because trust had broken down over several months on both sides: the executives had lost confidence in the particular business unit and vice-versa was true with the people in the unit. To make things even more interesting, was the fact that this executive was going to use his assignment to rehabilitate his own leadership reputation in the eyes of his senior executives.

The first obvious question was to look at his options. He was looking at a pretty limited range at that time. So we started to frame an appropriate question to start some out-of-the-box-thinking to flow. After some discussion, his question started out as, “What is my best option to build a positive critical mass within the next 3-6 months, considering…” Critical mass was important, since the unit was still not able to stand on its own two feet.

After some further conversation, he came up with considerations such as, “… current unhelpful poor relations, inadequate facilities, senior executive performance expectations, and the need for better team focus?” These were then tacked onto the end of the earlier question. Of course, every situation has its own considerations, so I wouldn’t encourage you to follow his carte blanche: you’ll have your own.

Once these were packaged together, his next step was to come up with a couple of “bookends” or the ‘Ying and Yang’ option extremes that he was least likely to pursue. Getting these out would help stimulate his creative intuition to come up with reasonable alternatives. He ended up with: “Go and take over: kick butt” at one end and “Go and sell (for the unit): let the chips fall where they may.” Neither were especially viable in the circumstances, but they were still options.

With the question, considerations and “bookends” in place, he was now ready to look at his reasonable options, some of which turned out to include: “Arbitrate between XYZ location team and executives,” “Identify senior level obstacles and then bypass to present issues to top executives,” and “Round table discussion with all interested parties.” I will leave it open as to his optimum solution, as this will be impossible for you to judge: since you are not in his particular circumstances, with his particular range of talents.

Please refer to the Latest Example to view the overall picture of a potential solution. 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: “Using Option Solving to decide on ‘Stimulating an executive into action?’” We will appreciate your COMMENTS or go to peter @ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

Getting Someone to Reconsider their Position:Resolved using Option Solving!

Not so long ago, a colleague and I were grappling with that perennial issue within the organization world, “Getting a key person to change his or her mind.” Of course, one of the first things which should be done, when faced with this sort of dilemma, is to determine that changing people’s minds will be beneficial for them.

In this case, we felt that it would be significantly beneficial to this person’s organization if we were to change his mind. We had a particular exercise in mind that we wanted him to experience, which would have a worthy impact both on him and his organization. However, he had closed the door, at least for the time being.

My colleague and I initially set about formulating an appropriate question, commencing with the words: “What is my best alternative for encouraging Jack to reconsider and participate in out XYZ session?” This, however, had to be bolstered by some thoughtful considerations, such as: He’s already made up his mind, He could use the outcome to provide great leadership to ABC organization, He could benefit from some positive re-education, and of course Dealing with his financial issues.

From this we figured out appropriate “bookends,” those more extreme options that help frame the best outcome. In this case, it quickly became apparent the most obvious two were: Let sleeping dogs lie, and at the other end Offer to do a free demo (having already done one free demo related to something else, this became a less tasteful option from our perspective).

From there we started to explore possible options, which included: Have lunch with this person and a third party confidante; Give the third party confidante a free snapshot view of the proposed XYZ session; Get an influential board member to participate in a free snapshot session, and so on. Again, it’s not important to reveal my colleague’s chosen option (we came up with 6) and, at the moment of writing this scenario, my colleague hadn’t fully tested it out. But it does go to show how option solving can be so valuable in a testing situation like this.

Please refer to the Latest Example to view the overall picture of a recent solution. 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: “Using Option Solving to decide on ‘Making the most of my New Year’s resolution?’”  You’re your COMMENTS or go to peter @ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)