Yes or No!

I was coaching a client some time back who was trying to decide if he would move on from his current role or stay put. We did an exercise where he explored the downsides of staying, the upsides of moving on and the upsides of staying – it seemed very clear that the energy and upsides around moving on were way stronger than those for staying in current role.

Now he was the Managing Director of his current organisation and I had noticed that his face lit up whenever he talked about the work the organisation did, the people they took care of, and the strategic possibilities they had. But there were all sorts of complications and challenges and a certain weariness from the journey they’d been on.

So I asked a ‘disappearing options’ question – What if you couldn’t leave? Take that option off the table – What would you do then?  Well, things would just have to change he said.  What kind of changes? And on from there came a whole strategy for changing leadership focus, organisational structure, developing and growing the talents and skills of folk on the team, making some hard calls. He recognised that, if two key changes were possible, then staying in a newly self-defined leadership role rather than the one that had emerged as the organisation had grown was a real and energising possibility.

This all serves to highlight the dangers of what Chip and Doug Heath in their book Decisive call narrow framing – looking at too narrow a range of options. In fact their research indicates that ‘whether or not’ decisions fail a whopping 52% of the time.Simply bringing in one more option reduces the failure rate to 32%.  Or, to put it more positively, it increases the success rate to 68%.  There’s research showing that when Executive Boards insist on considering more than one option they made six times as many good decisions.

So next time you’re facing a ‘whether or not’ decision look for more options and explore them fully. Even if you decide to go with the original option you’ll find that the decision will be a better one.

If you want a thinking partner to help you explore your options check out our suite of online and face to face supports. These include our CLARITY Thinking Sessions, a half day workshop designed to support you in making complex personal or organisational decisions and our  FOCUS Decision Making Session a once off coaching session, excellent if you are facing a critical decision that you need to get right.