Here’s a small technique I’ve found useful for driving technical discussions at work, especially where there might be many differing viewpoints in the conversation. It’s called Enumerate the Options.”

It goes like this:

  1. Have the group enumerate all possible options.
  2. From the perspective of a customer or end-user, have the group objectively describe how pleasant each option will be. “Pleasant” can be swapped out with “easy,” “fast,” or another useful description.
  3. From the perspective of the business, try to describe how sustainable each option might be. “Sustainable” can be swapped out for “expensive.” I prefer sustainable because it allows for things that might have a steep up-front cost with more predictable costs down the line.
  4. Discuss.
  5. The group (or the decision-maker) chooses an option.

By starting off with the objective aspects of the decision, I’ve found groups to do less talking past each other. This is a more collaborative approach than asking “What problem are we trying to solve?” and gets everyone on the same page before a decision is made. I’ve found it to be most useful in technical conversations, but it may be able to be applied elsewhere.