Unsurprising confession: when I was a scrappy young bachelor, I’d hit the clubs with friends. In a nightclub, anything can happen. I’ve started relationships, albeit not very healthy ones. Lots of Schwarzenegger bodies without Schwarzenegger minds emit intimidating body language. Even the roof can collapse (even though it’s unlikely).
By combining vodka and Red Bull, these muscleheads got the best of both worlds. Lots of energy, complete loss of inhibition, and a sense of being invincible came with this highly exotic cocktail. That combination, while it might have been great in a night club, in reality was a pretty dreadful combination elsewhere.
See, just because it may have been a good idea at the time, it doesn’t mean that the next day would have been so pleasant. The hangovers were terrible the following day.
They craved the loss of inhibition. I suspect some of these guys regretted doing things the next day. Saying things. Because they had alcohol, they had an excuse, in case somebody would hold them accountable, including themselves.
I like being in tune with my id as much as the next guy. I just don’t want to feel the need to explain myself to my conscience. The next day. Vodka and Red Bull was the easy way out. No need to think.
Effective planning requires that same level of conscientiousness. Time is precious. If you haven’t thought through what you’re trying to achieve, you are almost guaranteed to be wasting time. At least some.
Making sure that you’re moving towards your objectives, particularly in an uncertain environment, gives you much greater certainty.
Let’s say you want to make a decision among a couple of strategic alternatives. Each one has certain pros and cons. Each has consequences. Each constrains what you can do later. You’re also not sure how your competitors will react to each alternative. As a result, it’s not immediately clear which one would actually be the best choice. Each one has risk. Not choosing an option is also a risky option.
Enter real options analysis.
Real options help analyze the “big issues” for a company and its existence. They have to do with big milestones. In a corporate setting, having strategic clarity means that the whole company will find it much easier to execute. Everyone is “on the same page”. A strategic decision touches everyone. All stakeholders are affected.
This is analogous to the big milestones in a person’s life: birth, coming of age, marriage, death. All major religions and primitive cultures celebrate these milestones for people. They are important to everyone who knows that person. The community acts together.
Given that a corporation is a legal person created to maximize wealth and profits, real options help decide whether to take a specific path and when to do it.
According to Sick and Gamba:
Properly managed options create value and reduce risk for the organizations that own them. They arise because of the interplay of 4 things:
1. Real assets: ﬁnancial options are generally redundant and hence do not create of destroy shareholder value. Real options cannot be replicated by stakeholders and generally create
2. Risk: volatility and risk-return relationships.
3. Leverage: variable costs and beneﬁts work against either ﬁxed costs and beneﬁts or imperfectly correlated costs and beneﬁts.
4. Flexibility: to manage the risk and leverage by accepting upside risk potential and reducing downside risk.
As a decision-making tool, real options help you “cut to the chase” at any given moment. They estimate a financial value on each strategic choice, without forcing you to spend anything. Based on a few things you know or you can estimate, you can easily calculate an implied financial value for each choice. As a result, if you have a limited amount of resources, you create a metric that makes the choices comparable. You can compare $ to $.