Comparing options using different constraints


Constraining choice by focusing on particular management tools or by imposing dollar limits for other constraints may result in a smaller, but more realistic set of options. This is a useful approach when there are known constraints in terms of funds, time, or personnel.


  • Determine whether the group is ready to engage in problem solving.
  • Determine the group’s appetite/inclination to work with decision-making constraints.
  • Work with group to identify (and delimit) different constraints under which options are being generated. For example, participants may be asked to generate options for regulatory solutions, public outreach solutions, research options, etc. Groups might be asked to think of options under specific financial constraints such “no option should cost more than $100,000 to implement.”
  • Before inviting options for each constraint, encourage participants to avoid evaluation of options suggested by others. Suggest separating idea generation from idea evaluation.
  • Once the group understands the constraints, invite participants to take turns identifying options.
  • Record options as they are identified.
  • Continue to encourage options until no more are suggested (or allotted time has expired).
  • Ask people to compare the type of options identified using different constraints

In Practice
In a coastal management workshop, participants were encouraged to generate management options consistent with an emphasis on principles of ahupua‘a management.

About Strategies

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