The second questions asks you to select an option where the alternatives are interdependent; one alternative influences the other alternative. There is a cause and effect relationship between some/all of the alternatives. For example, what should you work on first if you want to reduce littering.
In both cases, it is best to start this exercise with a scoreboard, success as measured by. In the first situation, what characteristics (and metrics) would you like in your automobile choice to have? In the second situation, what are the contributing factors to litter. See April ’15 newsletter, step 4: Affinity Diagram to develop a scoreboard. The point here is it’s best to have the team define a “win” together before they select options to support the “win”.
1. Independent Options – Tool: Forced Pairs
Working with people who want a say in the purchase of an automobile, brainstorm automobile options. Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, etc. Working with your scoreboard, present and “sell” your recommendation to the scoreboard. “This car has a 4 star safety rating, seating for six, etc. This tool, like the next, promotes dialogue, a conversation that generates learning.
Arrange options in a circle on flip chart paper. Post Its are helpful here.
Deliberately compare each pair of automobiles; A vs. B, A vs. C, A vs. D, etc. and then B vs. C, B vs. D etc. It’s best to do this in a disciplined sequence to avoid missing any comparisons.
As you discuss and compare each pair of autos, draw an arrow to the preferred option of the two.
2. Interdependent Options – Tool: Interrelationship Digraph
Identify the problem or issue to be addressed. In the example below, a team is trying to decide what to do about reducing litter.
Working with people who know the situation, brainstorm cause-components of the problem: Lack of respect for others, lack of awareness of impact, etc.
Arrange causes in a circle on flip chart paper.
As above, deliberately compare each pair of contributing factors; A vs. B, A vs. C, A vs. D, etc. and then B vs. C, B vs. D etc. As you compare each pair, ask “Is there a relationship between these two factord, and if so, which causes the other. Draw an arrow from the cause to the effect. If there is no relationship, move on, If there is a relationship both ways, only document the stronger of the two causes.
As above, it’s best to do this in a discipline sequence to avoid missing any comparisons.
Considerations and Applications
Should you ever be unsure about what you want to do, working alone, these tools can help you come to a decision that you will support in far less time than just “sittin’ and thinkin’”. The first tool is helpful when you have a variety of unrelated options and can’t decide which to do first; you’re on a business trip with some time to have some fun. You have five things you’d like to do, but time for one. Which one should you choose?
The second tool is helpful when a variety of causes contributes to a problem. Say, Johnny’s bad grades. “Johnny, what might be making it hard for you to do well in school?” Johnny responds, “Soccer practice, too little time, video games, difficult topics, kids messing around in class, etc. Work on the factor that has the most arrows coming out from it.
1. Google Images – search for Interrelationship Digraph to find many examples and alternate formats.
2. Good Thinking Series – Part 2: Collaborate – includes about 50 collaboration tools
3. Good Thinking Series - Associated Videos – Watch Collaboration Skills
4. Upcoming public seminars: University of Michigan: Strategic Planning, October 1st, 2015; Scenario Planning, October 8th, 2015. Call for registration details: 616-392-2634
5. Websites: www.johncanfield.com and www.goodthinkingseries.com
6. Call or write 616-392-2634, email@example.com