How do I know if we've considered enough alternatives?

How do I know if we've considered enough alternatives?
When considering alternatives, you'll need to weigh the value of considering enough options against the possible energy-draining effect of considering all possible options. If you consider too few options, you may miss something important. But if you consider too many options, the differences between them may start to blur, and it might become harder to make an informed decision. There's no single, perfect number of alternatives, though the optimal number is probably more than one or two, and fewer than 10 or 12. Rather than count the number of options, however, a better way to use your time is to review the quality and range of the alternatives being considered. Assuming you've already taken the time to ensure that you're generating alternatives to solve the right problem, ask the following questions:
  • Have we considered "people" alternatives; i.e., solutions that can be achieved by increasing or reducing staff, adding training or development, conducting performance evaluations, etc.?
  • Have we considered "process" alternatives; i.e., solutions that can be achieved by improving, tweaking, adding, or eliminating existing processes?
  • Have we considered "technology" alternatives; that is, solutions that can be achieved by adding or changing technology?
  • Have we considered the option of doing nothing at all?
  • Have we considered the option of putting off investing time and money in the problem, or delaying further action until a specific event takes place?
  • Is there at least one alternative that meets some, most, or all of the stakeholders' needs?

A good rule is to stop generating alternatives when their value dwindles and the cost of considering them continues to rise. When you reach that point, and you can answer the questions above with a resounding "yes," you can probably be confident that you've considered the optimal number of alternatives.











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