How Can You Create Time or Space for More Options?

Johanna's Problem Solving Loop

Johanna’s Problem Solving Loop

One of my problem-solving approaches is to generate options. When I don’t generate enough options, I don’t see how to proceed.

Before I knew about the Rule of Three, I, often, took the first option I considered. It was often a pretty good option. I learned later that I had more options—and they were often better than the one I considered. Now that I know about the Rule of Three, I can develop better options in not too much more time.

My problem—and my clients’ problems—is the urgency we feel that we need to decide now. If I need to decide now, how can I give myself time to create more options? How can I hold the urgent at bay, to see more options?

I’ve developed these alternatives so far:

  • Pay to create more options later.
  • Make a good-enough decision now to be able to “create” time to be able to reconsider later.
  • Choose something small now that doesn’t prevent any other options, take that small step, and reassess.

Sometimes, I’m willing to pay for options. Trip insurance, for example. Trip insurance pushes the bulk of the risk to someone else. I’ve had trips canceled, often on too-short notice. With airline fees for changes, trip insurance is a relatively inexpensive way of creating other options.

Sometimes, I need to keep my options open for a longer time than I think I have to think. Can I make a good-enough decision that is changeable in the future? I find managing Boston traffic is one of those decisions. Sometimes, traffic is a little predictable. In the mornings and evenings, during commute times, the traffic is predictably slow on many of the major roads. And, I might find one route more comfortable than another. (If you know Boston, think about the difference between 93 North and Storrow Drive. If you’re driving to a western suburb, you could go either way, with more or less ease. And, more options.)

Sometimes, I can do choose small. I’m collecting the management myths (on my other site) into a book. I finally collected them all into an ebook and created a preview. Wow, too many words if I want managers to read this book! Because I had decided to self-publish, I can create three smaller books. I have more options for how I can organize and publish them.

I bet you can see more options for ‘creating” time to consider more options.

I know that if I fall into urgency thinking—I must decide on a plan now—I often have a less useful result. Thinking about paying for options later, making a good-enough decision I can reverse or change, and choosing something small work for me.

That is the question this week: How can you create time or space for more options?

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