Purpose: What kind of thinking
does this routine encourage?
This routine fosters creative thinking. It helps to explore decision
where a trade-off makes it hard to find a really good option. It
focuses on resolving opposites. Sometimes, but not always, there
are options that partly bring the opposites somewhat together. All
this is also relevant to understanding. It helps in understanding
situations even when you are not the real decision maker.
Application: When and Where can
it be used?
The options diamond helps with personal or classroom decision making
when different factors pull strongly in opposite directions. It’s
also a useful way of exploring and understanding such situations
in the news, history, or literature or science or medical policy,
etc. For example, US President Harry Truman in deciding to drop
the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima struggled with this trade-off:
Kill many thousands of Japanese but shorten the war versus let the
war and its casualties continue. He chose to use the bomb. But what
compromise options were there? And were there any options that might
combine the opposites and end the war quickly without killing thousands
Launch: What are some tips for starting
and using this routine?
Remember, the left and right points of the diamond are not options
themselves. They are the gains and losses that pull in opposite
directions. You then write options near the left and right corners
that go with one pull or the other; then the lower corner gets compromise
options and the top corner gets any options that partly combine
the opposites. In many classroom situations the point is to use
creative thinking to understand the situation better. Step 3 is
the payoff and a final choice among the options may not matter.
You can decide whether to go on to another routine for choosing
among the options. Or you can just take a quick vote on some of
the likely options. If you want, you can do this before step 3,
to give students a little more to discuss in step 3.