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Options not Answers
How many squirrels can you follow at once?
This is the thought that occurred to me while reading a recent article by Valeria Maltoni
entitled Inventing Options for Mutual Gain
. While describing an excellent process for arriving at options, and not necessarily “the final solution”, I am reminded of Edward de Bono and his book Lateral Thinking
that I read years ago. The depth and specifics of this work long ago drifted into the “you don’t need to remember this at a granular level”
section of my mind, but one of the descriptions I remember well is that the activity of lateral thinking could be visualized as you digging numerous holes in the ground. Although you may find something of interest, even compelling, in one of the holes you dig, you don’t stop digging. Don’t fall in love with the first appealing thing you come across. Other holes you dig may (or may not) offer up a more creative, more defining, more appropriate solution.
Now it’s true that at some point you’ll need to stop digging holes and bring all these potential answers up to consider, but the initial goal is to discover options, not arrive at an answer. Some of the options may well present you with trade-offs, value to different segments of the answer base (those for whom you are digging, whether they are customers, friend and family, or the factions in your head…).
In her article, Maltoni describes a prototypical strategy session that may be carried out amongst 5-8 people and many excellent points that will allow this group to get to the options, and THEN to a decision based upon negotiation. But what does this look like when it’s just you, the entrepreneur or small business owner?
There are a couple of complimentary approaches you can take.