One of our company values is that we seek “Third Alternatives” – when two ideas come together or even clash we ask the question, “is there a third alternative we should be considering?”
This idea originates as part of Habit 6 from Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and is possibly the most powerful technique I know for getting better outcomes with other people. Whilst it’s been cited as particularly helpful with competing ideas or where there’s a difference of opinion, I find it’s most useful when there’s already an agreement reached.
Imagine you’re considering which strategy to adopt for a project and in discussion several ideas are offered and eventually an agreement is concluded… this is the time to ask “is there a third alternative, is there a better idea than the the one we’ve just agreed on?” Nearly always there is, either a totally different strategy is revealed or, more commonly, improvements to the original plan are identified.
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