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Tip 4, Week 4: Develop more than one solution

In our third post in the series about better decision making, we looked at problems or conflicts.  Now we are looking at Week 4’s tip on ways to improve your decision making. This week, let’s think about developing more than one solution.

Tip 4, Week 4: Develop more than one solution

There’s an old joke about finding something you have lost in the last place that you would look… because nobody finds something and then continues to look for it.  But the same thing happens when we are going through the decision making process – once we come up with a solution that seems reasonable, we stop looking for other solutions.

In other words, when we are making decisions, we settle for the ‘first acceptable option’ rather than thinking through all the possibilities and choosing the ‘best possible option’.  One of the reasons why we settle for the first option may be that we form an unreasonable emotional attachment to the first good idea we have as being the best idea.  That’s true – it is the best idea we have had (so far) but it may not be the best idea we are possible of having.

When a group of people have to work through a decision, we can fool ourselves into thinking that we will come up with the best solution simply because lots of people can generate lots of ideas.  But sometimes we generate lots of ‘first acceptable options’ which (because we are attached to our own ideas) we then need to explain and defend.  The more we explain and defend, the harder it is to start thinking from the beginning.

Here’s a tip (or two):  When decision making, draw five circles on a sheet of paper and write one possible option or solution in each circle.  Then, around the outside of each circle, write down a few bullet points that respond to the statement, “This option would be a winner if I or we can….”

Why draw circles rather than just list your ideas?  Because when we create a list it has an order – from first to last.  The circles help us to realise that all of our ideas are (just for the moment) equally valuable. Drawing five circles can also push us to think of other options rather than stopping at one or two options.

The reason for then writing down the ways in which each idea can become a winner helps us to see that we might need to be creative and that the best option may not be the easiest option.

Don’t be surprised if this leads you to linking some of your ideas together, or developing a new option that was not part of your original five. If you think you will have more than five circles, draw them all.

Need more help on how to develop more than one solution, email Trent or comment below.  For more great tips, stay tuned for our final Tip in this 5-week series, next week.

About Trent Moy

Trent Moy, the founding Principal of Halide is a business consultant that specialises in decision making and leadership skills.  He is an independent adviser on ethics and on how businesses can achieve better social and environmental outcomes. Trent has over 25 years of expertise in senior management roles, ethics and building motivating cultures.


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