In March, like most businesses around the nation, LMD started working remotely. When schools went virtual, youth sports were canceled, and stores were closed, my family went from having no free time to having too much. And since we were spending all of our time at home, we decided to keep busy by tackling our “honey-do” list.

The most challenging project proved to be a half-bath remodel, which included deciding on a new vanity, faucet, mirror, and lighting fixture. After we narrowed down our choices to a list of five options in each category, my wife waffled between them for weeks.

Eventually, she declared that she couldn’t choose. I learned long ago to expect this indecision—and also that choosing new products like this was not in my household job description. So we were stuck. Then I remembered a simple technique we use often at LMD.

There really isn’t much of a difference between choosing the right faucet, vanity, or mirror and choosing the right color palette, logo, or web design theme. All are subjective decisions based on context, expected user experience, and preferred aesthetic.

Given that subjective decisions can be difficult for indecisive people, I implemented our trusted “THIS or THAT” exercise—a process that we use at LMD to make decisions and build consensus with colleagues and clients.

Whether we’re brainstorming internally as a team or sharing ideas with clients, we always offer multiple concepts. That’s when the THIS or THAT exercise is most valuable. We follow these steps to assist in decision making:

 

  1. Create simple hand-held signs. One side says “THIS” and the other side says “THAT.” We make them colorful, bold, and easy to use. Gluing the two sides together over a paint stirrer or popsicle stick works great. We hand out one sign to each decision-maker.

  2. Only present two options at a time. Regardless of how many total options we have to present, this exercise is limited to showing only two at a time—that’s it.

  3. THIS or THAT. After describing each of the first two concepts, we ask the decision-makers, “This one or that one? Which do you prefer?” They HAVE to choose one or the other. Then we discuss each decision maker’s preference to build consensus. Once we have consensus on a choice, we eliminate one of the two options.

  4. Rinse and repeat. If we presented four concepts initially, after round one we now have three concepts left. We then present the other two options and ask the same questions. After the second round, we’re left with the final two options. We repeat the process for a third round and land on our winner.

Over time, we’ve learned that presenting many options (more than three) can be overwhelming. However, it would be a disservice to our clients to limit our ideas if we believe we have several that would succeed. THIS or THAT is fun, lessens anxiety when presenting lots of concepts, and helps get everyone on the same page quickly and confidently.

PS: Within one hour of doing this exercise with my wife, we had the final picks for our new vanity, faucet, mirror, and lighting fixture. Although she hesitated initially about participating, when we were done, I had a new believer in the process!

Would you like to try THIS or THAT for your next brainstorming session? Contact LMD—we can give you some tips and even facilitate your meeting.

Dan
Croft
Creative Director

Dan creates websites for clients that blend visual style and navigational ease with the goal of creating optimal user experiences. Dan is the creative director for web services for many key accounts and oversees and directs LMD’s designers on web design on multimedia projects. Key accounts have...Read more