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The Search For Solutions

The search for solutions is the fifth step in the decision making process. We are going to continue here first with some more excerpts from the book The Art of DECISION MAKING: 7 Steps to Achieving More Effective Results, by John D. Arnold...

  1. The need for information
  2. Problem-solving methods
  3. Thinking "outside the box"
  4. Systems thinking
  5. Synthesizing information
  6. Metanoia & mind-shift
  7. Brainstorming
Now we must "ask ourselves, "How can we meet the Criteria we've set? What are the possible courses of action?" The answers to these questions become our possible Solutions.

"If that sounds like common sense, it is. But it is more than that. Very often we consider only two Alternatives: Is she right or am I? Should I keep my present job or take the new one I've been offered? Often too we choose our Alternative before we've set our Criteria; in this case we arbitrarily restrict our choices and increase the likelihood of making a bad decision. If, instead, we let our Criteria generate our Alternatives, we give ourselves a wider range of possibilities to choose from. We thus increase the likelihood of finding the Solution that best meets our needs" (74).

"By letting our Criteria determine our Alternatives, we can look beyond the obvious choices and fashion fresh Solutions, taking the best features of several Alternatives and combining or modifying them to fit our Criteria. That is what I call innovative decision making, and it is the lesson to which we now turn" (75).

Let's take an example. Let's say you are trying to find the best office space for your business. Here is the way you might proceed:

CRITERIA

ALTERNATIV

A

ALTERNATIV

B

ALTERNATIV

C

ALTERNATIV

D

ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENTS

CROWN

AND

MONTWD

AVE. B

AND

JONES

HALPERN

AND

SMITHSON

JUDD

AND

MT. RED

-No further than 20 minutes from Johnís house

-Maximum $16,000 lease

-Minimum 1,850 sq. feet space

-Occupancy by December 31

No

 

Yes

Yes

No

No

 

No

Yes

No

Yes

 

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

 

No

Yes

Yes

DESIRABLE OBJECTIVES

       

10 min. travel time to all homes

10 attractive office décor

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

9 Max. sq. Ft.

9 Min. rental cost

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

8 Two yr. Lease

8 Same comfort

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

8 Quiet

8 Office privacy

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

6 same phone no.

5 excel. mail svc

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

5 super landlord

5 better phone svc

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

4 attractive bldg

4 bldg easy locate

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

3 occupy soon

No

Yes

No

Yes

1 close to eat out

yes

yes

yes

Yes

"Let's review the lessons of this chapter. Let your Criteria generate your Alternatives, not vice versa. It was only after Helen had put the committee through the achieve/preserve/avoid exercise that members forgot their pet Solutions and began seeking common ground. Widen your circle of Alternatives by taking each Criterion in turn and asking, "What are the possible ways of fulfilling (achieving, preserving, avoiding) this one? How else can it be done?

"Explore all the options that flow from your Criteria, no matter how unpalatable they may first appear. Don't be concerned if some of them have never been tried before - like having beer at a church site. Don't prejudge them. Let the Criteria judge them.

"Seek ways of overcoming the weaknesses and combining the strengths of your possible Solutions to formulate an even better one.

"Remember, in most situations you need not be bound by the obvious or stated choices. There are usually other options waiting to be discovered" (83).


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Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS

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