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Your main objective at this sub-step is to identify and then evaluate pitfalls and additional problems that could potentially result from solving the problem you are currently dealing with. As you work through this process keep in mind Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, all at once, at the worst possible time, when you least expect it.
As you work through this process, you will be exploring a number of key areas that will test your idea and lay down the groundwork that will allow you to implement a solution to your problem in the real world.
For starters, you will be measuring the costs and benefits of your ideas based on the scenarios you previously outlined. You will also take into account the impact zone of implementing your idea and how this may influence other people, places and circumstances in both a positive and negative way. In addition to this, you will conduct an ecology-check in order to determine which course of action best resonates with your Universal View.
If while working through this sub-step it is clear that a scenario you envisioned simply won’t work because it doesn’t pass the ecology-check, than you might need to run through the Re-Imagine step once again and create new ideas and solutions to help resolve your problem.
By the time you reach the end of this sub-step, you will have a clear vision of the decision you will make that will allow you to bring one of your ideas to fruition in the real world.
Let’s now explore this sub-step in a little more detail.
Costs vs. Benefits
Your task here is to take each of the scenarios you outlined within the previous sub-step and determine the consequences that may result from implementing each of these ideas.
It’s absolutely critical to understand the consequences of the variety of choices you have in front of you before settling down on a decision that will help you resolve the problem you are facing.
Take some time now to overview your scenarios and describe the consequences of each alternative. Compare the pros and cons based on a specific criteria you have selected and determine which scenario/idea is worth pursuing. This will help you to make a comparison of your alternatives based on clear objectives.
- What are the potential costs and benefits of each scenario?
- What is the fatal flaw in this idea?
- How many ways is this likely to fail?
- What is the drawback to this way of thinking?
- What are the potential benefits and rewards?
- What are the risks?
- What new problems could result?
- What are the real costs of implementing this solution years down the track? Is it worth it?
- Will this solution be a viable option in the future, or will it need to be modified?
Your Risk Tolerance Level
It’s also important to keep in mind your risk-tolerance. This is in essence how you value the downside when compared to the upside of a certain scenario.
Your ability to absorb risk, will effectively determine what scenario and idea you select and subsequently the decision you end up making.
If like most people, you are risk-averse, than the downside will weigh more heavily on your decision than the upside. Ask yourself:
- What is the degree of risk I am willing to embrace?
In order to effectively calculate your risk-tolerance level, it’s important to consider the desirability and consequences of each scenario; the chances of a desirability occurring, and the method you will use to choose the most attractive scenario.
A scenario is considered to be desirable, if the benefits of taking this action outweigh the consequences of taking the action, or in-effect the consequence of not taking any action at all.
To make this work you will need to assign a desirability score to all consequences; compare the consequences against each other out of 100, and calculate the chances of each consequence occurring. In addition to this you will need to assign a desirability score to all benefits; compare the benefits against each other out of 100, and calculate the chances of each benefit occurring. Once finished, you will need to compare the total desirability scores of each scenario and then select the most appropriate idea based on this score.
In addition to the consequences of your scenarios, you must also consider possible uncertainties that might occur and the likelihood of them coming to fruition.
While you can’t make uncertainties disappear, addressing them throughout your decision-making process will help you to make smarter choices. Ask yourself:
- What are the key uncertainties within this scenario?
- What are the possible outcomes of these uncertainties?
- What are the chances that each possible outcome will occur?
- What are the consequences of each outcome?
Accounting for Linked-Decisions
Here you need to weigh how the decision you make today will influence the choices you will have tomorrow and in the future.
These types of decisions can often be years apart, or they can literally be minutes apart. In all cases, they add a new layer of complexity to the decision-making process.
Ideally you will want to think like a chess grandmaster who always things several moves ahead before making a decision to move a piece on the chess board.
In order to consider possible linked-decisions, you must utilize foresight and determine the types of choices that you will be confronted with in the future if you choose to make a specific decision today. Each of these choices will have their own consequences and benefits that will either help or hinder your progress moving forward. Your goal is to determine what these choices will be, and what decision you should make at the time.
One common way to visually represent these choices is to use a decision-tree. A decision-tree will allow you to work forwards and backwards through the choices that will need to be made, and will enable you to gain a big-picture overview of the path you will need to take to bring your idea to fruition.
Finally, by taking into consideration linked-decisions will help you to lay down the groundwork for a solid plan of action that you will work through within the Crafting sub-step.
Your task here is to calculate the impact zone by considering who your idea will impact and how it will impact them if it gets implemented. This of course doesn’t have to be people but rather can be physical things, companies, or even entire industries.
Consider both the positives and negatives, and take a look at the possible resistance you could expect from people, institutions and/or governments who might oppose your idea.
- Who will my solution/idea impact?
- What will my solution/idea impact?
- How will it make an impact?
- What are the possible benefits?
- What are the possible drawbacks?
Law of Control
To achieve your desired objective you must take control over as many aspects of your life or business as possible that could directly or indirectly influence the outcome you would like to realize. In other words, you must make sure that the idea you are trying to implement is within your capability given your experience, knowledge, resources and skill-set.
To help you through this process, take each of your scenarios and ask yourself the following questions:
- Can I successfully start and maintain this particular scenario?
- How much of this scenario is under my direct control?
- What factors of this scenario are somewhat within my control?
- Does someone or something else have control? How can I influence them (or it)?
- What factors are not within my control?
- What must I do to bring them under control?
- What must others do for me?
- Who will assist me specifically?
- What can I offer others in order to get their assistance?
Here, we are taking into account your Universal View, and comparing it against each scenario you have outlined in order to test how it fits within this Universal View of your life.
In life coaching circles, this is known as an ecology-check where you make sure that the goals you set are congruent and consistent with your beliefs, values, priorities, and other factors.
Within this specific problem solving context, you are identifying which scenarios are the best fit for your life and circumstances moving forward into the future. You are in essence envisioning forward into the future trying to identify how your idea may be influenced by a variety of possible circumstances.
To assist you through this process, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which of my scenarios/ideas best synergizes with my Universal View?
- Am I heading in the right direction, or should I be heading somewhere else?
- Why am I even considering this option/idea/solution/scenario?
- How can I make sure that this system or process works as it should and gets me the results I desire?
Using Your Intuition
We’re now getting close to making a decision about which scenario/idea to choose moving forward to help resolve your problem. This is however where some people get stuck, and they simply can’t decide, and as a result they turn to their intuition for answers. What they don’t realize is that their gut-intuition is one of the worst ways to make decisions and predict outcomes.
Please don’t get me wrong here. I’m a big proponent of developing intuition. However, most of the time what we call “intuition” is not really as mysterious as it appears to be. In fact what most of us understand intuition to be, can actually be explained logically. Which is why if you trust your gut-intuition more than empirical evidence, then luck and other factors have most likely misled you. You may even be falling into one or more of the following intuitive traps.
It’s natural for human beings to embrace feedback that confirms our suspicions and overlook feedback that contradicts them. What this means is that your intuition is often based on what you expect to be true, and not on facts, stats and evidence.
Many times we have incomplete or biased information that isn’t based on evidence or any valid data for that matter, and as a result we build our intuitive thoughts upon limited perspectives.
Testing Your Luck
When it comes to your intuition, every time you use it you are in essence testing your luck. Sometimes it might work in your favor, while other times it might not. Does that mean you’re intuitive?
If you repeatedly toss a coin, on average you’ll get heads or tails five times in a row every 32 sets of five throws. But just as five heads in a row doesn’t mean that you’re a skillful coin tosser, a string of successes doesn’t mean your gut intuition is right either, because the next coin toss can always betray you.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your odds of winning and boost your luck factor.
People who consider themselves to be intuitive often don’t give enough credit to their detective skills. What they consider to be intuition, is nothing more than the act of identifying and reading clues within the environment that give them the answers that they are searching for.
If for instance you notice that someone’s hands shake when they are lying, this doesn’t mean that you’re intuitive. It simply means that you’re observant and you shouldn’t mistaken it for intuition.
Making a Decision
Having successfully evaluated all your scenarios/ideas, you are now ready to choose which scenario/idea you are wanting to work with moving forward into the Crafting sub-step.
If you’re still unclear what decision you should be making at this stage, than consider creating additional criteria and a ranking system that will help you to choose the best alternative courses of action. This criteria must be based on the objectives that you would like to achieve, as well as upon other factors we have discussed above.
Making the right decision at this stage is not easy. However, there are plenty of visual thinking decision-making options to work with. See the Element Gallery for more information.
How can I visualize this?
Integrated into this stage is a set of visual thinking techniques, strategies, tools and processes that you can utilize to help you visualize your thoughts on paper or in physical form. These techniques will be revealed and integrated into each stage along The Path over time.
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