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Listing Alternative Solutions for a Decision Analysis

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Listing Alternatives Solutions

This is Part 1 of the Alternative Solutions section in the Decision Analysis unit. Part 2 deals with the evaluation of the listing in Part 1.

Excerpt from the Decision Analysis unit:

  • Quantity and quality are the keys.
  • The more alternatives - the better the quality of the final solution.
  • Include combinations of separate solutions.
  • For each alternative, list the advantages and disadvantage or other evaluative methods.
  • Always include the important (oft forgotten) Do Nothing.

In this section you are listing all the possible solutions. The quality of your final decision increases in proportion to the exhaustive, comprehensive and creative variety of your alternatives.

Being Exhaustive

Make your first alternative, "Do Nothing." It's quite easy to forget that this can be a viable option that should be considered. Writing it in at the outset is a safe reminder.

Retain in your final document all the feasible solutions you considered. This will be helpful when you are sharing the decision making process with others. It will show the thoroughness of your thought processes. Options that were tossed aside for various reasons can be placed in an appendix and cross-referenced with a note in this section.

Conduct a brainstorming session if appropriate. Full instructions on how to brainstorm can be found elsewhere (not on Uncle Max Says yet). Some of the directives are:

  • Remain open to all suggestions
  • Any idea is a good idea during this stage
  • Don't comment, judge, criticize or display negative gestures while the ideas are flowing
  • Record and display each idea as they emerge
  • When ideas cease to flow, review the record and select any that are worth further consideration.

Consider such options such as combining, merging, dividing, adding, cancelling, eliminating, contracting out, third party consultation, word or image association.

Being Comprehensive

  • List the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative solution.
  • Do a SWOT Analysis - listing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
  • Describe some "What If" scenarios.
  • List what additional information is needed.
  • Think ahead all the way to the end. Visualize the implementations. Consider the long-term view.
  • Include possible outcomes, consequences, opposition and competitor's counteractions.
  • Consider possible spinoffs, permutations and modification of existing conditions.
  • Recognize trends and changes in such outside forces as changes in regulations, shifts in attitudes and industry transformations.
  • Review the alternatives to ensure there is variety and differing perspectives.

Being Creative

  • Keeping asking, "why not?" - pursue intuitive thoughts
  • When tempted to think outside the box, consider re-designing the box.
  • Do a paradigm shift after you figure out what that really means.
  • Glean practical alternatives from fantasies.
  • Explore what would be promising and exciting.

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