A:B Solutioning Technique

How to Use the A:B Solutioning Technique for Alternative Problem-Solving

How to Use the A:B Solutioning Technique for Alternative Problem-Solving

The process:

1. At the start of the problem-solving session, let everyone know they will be looking for alternative solutions. They will do this by using the "A:B Solutioning" technique. A way to get the team’s creative juices flowing as they think outside the box for alternative solutions.

2. Begin the session using traditional brainstorming or the team's normal problem-solving method to write a list of possible solutions.

3. Next, looking at the solutions, create a list of challengers. Challengers are a set of variables that, when applied to the current solutions, will often produce additional solutions that are often more creative and, in some cases, unpractical. Try to create a list of 3 to 5 challengers in each of the following four challenger categories: 

a.) A picture containing text, nature Description automatically generated Beneficiaries – the various roles of individuals who could benefit from the solution.

b.) Directions – the direction that one could look for alternatives to a given solution, such as top-down, bottom-up, or opposing.

c.) Resources – alternatives resources that could be used to produce or achieve the solution

d.) Values – the values the beneficiaries could receive from a given solution.

4. With the list of solutions and challengers, it is time to get the creative juices flowing.  Using a round-robin approach, have team members apply a few of the challenges to a solution to come up with alternatives.  Let them know that the alternatives can be completely off the wall and totally impractical. In fact, let them know that they will be voting for both the best solution and the most creative and impractical solution. The goal is to have fun, so do not take this activity too seriously.  

5. Lastly, it is time to vote. Give each person six dots, two of each of the three different colors. They will then identify one color for each of the following solution groups. They are to vote twice for each group, and they can put one or both dots on a single or two solutions.

a.) The most creative and impractical solution

b.) The most creative and practical or near practical solution

c.) The best solution

Remember, this exercise is not about coming up with the best solution. It's about building confidence in sharing ideas and speaking up. Trying this exercise a few times for a few weeks will enhance the team's culture. The team will be more creative, committed, engaged, and far more effective.