The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is 'Option Orientation'?

When something goes wrong, what matters the most is how you handle the problem. Fixating on the issue doesn't help. It's far more productive to focus on options, not issues – that's Option Orientation.

By focusing your energy on potential options to solve the problem, you're more likely to find a way to make things better.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Option Orientation'

When something goes wrong, how you handle the crisis matters.

Mistakes and issues happen all the time, so planning your response in advance goes a long way toward minimizing the impact of the unexpected.

Fixating on the issue is the least productive thing you can do when something goes wrong. By the time you're aware of an issue, preventing it is beyond your Locus of Control. The issue has already occurred-the only question is how you plan to respond to it.

Imagine that you report to the CEO of a company that makes microwaves, and you've just received a report that several microwaves have exploded, burning several homes to the ground. That's a major issue.

How do you think the CEO will respond if your approach is, "Boss, we have an issue. What do we do? Tell us what to do!"

Unless your CEO is a very patient soul, the response will probably be, "I know we have a $&#@&% issue-help me figure out our options!" Fixate on the hand-wringing, and you'll soon be out of a job.

Instead of dwelling on the problem, focus on your options. Ruminating on the issue doesn't solve anything; what are you going to do about it?

By focusing your energy on evaluating potential responses, you're far more likely to find a way to make things better.

Here's an alternate approach your hypothetical CEO is probably going to find more useful:

We've received several reports of fires caused by our microwaves.

Here are our options-we can have our engineers run a full diagnostic before we issue a statement, or we can issue an immediate recall.

Based on the information we have available right now, it appears our microwaves are at fault, and present a major risk to the safety of our customers.

Based on our options, I recommend an immediate recall, which we estimate will cost $4 million.

Focusing on the potential options is far more constructive-you're presenting several courses of action, the costs and benefits associated with each, then recommending a solution based on the available information.

The CEO (or client) can then review your recommendation and the options you present, ask follow-up questions, then make the best Choice possible. Do this often and well, and you'll soon develop a reputation for clear-headedness in the midst of crisis.

Focus on options, not issues, and you'll be able to handle any situation life throws at you.

Questions About 'Option Orientation'


"The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men."

George Eliot, nineteenth-century novelist


From Chapter 8:

Working With Others


https://personalmba.com/option-orientation/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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