Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Games for Problem Solving: The McDonald’s Maneuver


My husband and I play a game when we can’t decide where to go for dinner when we are both too tired to cook at home. One of us starts the game by making a suggestion. It’s usually not a great suggestion, because we are both too tired to think. The other person has veto power over that initial suggestion as long as they suggest an alternative. The alternative can also be vetoed by the other person, as long as they suggest yet another alternative. The game ends when we both agree it’s an acceptable solution.

In the process of vetoing suggestions back and forth, we realize what we didn’t like about the initial suggestion, for example: “oh, but we had Chinese food yesterday”. Each iteration improves the suggestion in at least one dimension and narrows down the alternatives.

I apply a similar method in problem solving when it’s hard to get people to bring up options. I refer to it as the McDonald’s Maneuver, because I don’t want to go to McDonald’s for dinner, but by mentioning it, it’s easier for people to recommend something else: no fear of their suggestion being worse than mine, and it will elicit a reaction as to why McDonald’s (or an equivalent initial suggestion I present) would not be a good solution which can then aid their thinking.

To this day, we haven’t had to settle for McDonald’s for dinner.

Photo: Ise, Japan where I can’t seem to have a bad meal

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This entry was posted on May 17, 2015 by in Management and tagged , , .
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