What Must Be True

Asking a single question can change everything: What Must Be True?

This question helpfully focuses the analysis on the things that matter. It creates room for inquiry into ideas, rather than advocacy of positions. It encourages a broader consideration of more options, particularly unpredictable ones and It provides room to explore ideas.

The answers-the things that would have to be true-are the conditions under which a successful strategy is possible.

Until a real choice is articulated, decisionmakers can’t understand cognitively or feel emotionally the consequences of the different ways to resolve an issue.  Articulating options provides a gut check. How do these choices feel, and what would have to be known to decide on the best choice?

An example of Framing would be:

Should I continue to fund my qualified plan?

Should I look to fund tax free vehicles?

Once the choice has been framed, the decision makers reverse engineer the logic of each possibility. That is, they need to specify what must be true for the possibility to be a terrific choice.

An Example of Specifying a Condition would be:

Will this possibility work if taxes are higher in the future?

Wil this possibility work if taxes are lower in the future?

The test process leads to the actual testing and the analysis of results.  Run tests utilizing the conditions specified.  If the condition has failed that possibility may be eliminated.  If that condition passes, test the next condition. 

An example of this may be:

Test if the strategy will work if tax rates are higher in the future or if the person is in a higher tax bracket in the future.

The choice step becomes simple and even anti-climatic. The decision maker needs only to review the test results and make the choice dictated by the pattern of results. In essence, the choice makes itself; there is no need for serious debate.

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