Sometimes you’ve just got to go deeper to resolve a deadlock.

This method works well for individuals or teams trying to move beyond a dilemma.

Cartesian questions, credited to the logic of French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650), help the decision-maker(s) consider different perspectives, better understand blockages and identify patterns in support of a particular course of action.

The first step is to clearly articulate the decision to be made, e.g. ‘Should this team pursue Opportunity X or Opportunity Y?’

The team should then brainstorm responses to the 4 questions below. They may need encouragement to dig a little deeper, so be prepared to repeatedly ask, ‘What else?’

Here are the questions, which should be asked and answered in this order:

  1. What will happen if we pursue Z option?
  2. What will happen if we don’t pursue Z option?
  3. What won’t happen if we pursue Z option?
  4. What won’t happen if we don’t pursue Z option?

This super simple process allows the situation to be examined from a number of different angles and usually sees a pattern emerge which allows for more informed, confident and collaborative decisions to be made.