The primary goal of this stage is to array and evaluate options and position the group for making choices.
At the start of this stage, issues are fully stated. Pertinent PESTLE information has been gathered, reviewed, and jointly analyzed for insights and conclusions. Options have been provisionally framed. By the end of this stage, potential trades, gives, quid pro quos, and possible bundles or packages of agreements are clear. The group knows and understands the choices and is positioned for bargaining and decision making.
Options can be organized and worked on in many ways—from a simple list of ideas, to a much larger set laid out spreadsheet style or bundled into different scenarios. The options may include ideas at various levels of scale (i.e., big ideas, small ideas, short-term ideas, long-term ideas, large landscape-level ideas, and site-specific ideas).
This is the time to shift the focus of stakeholders to the construction of “trustable” agreements rather than interpersonal trust. This may require building possible contingencies and caveats on to the proposed options, bundles, or packages that stakeholders can now take back to their constituencies for a final review before decisions are finalized.
With a fundamental shift from defining the problem and its various causes and effects to embracing the more action-oriented question of what can be done, this stage positions the whole process for a conclusion.
The big work of this stage is clarifying, arraying, and analyzing the options that will be essential to the development of a final agreement–both the letter of it and the spirit of it.