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October 1962. The Soviet Union places nuclear missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of Florida. President Kennedy instantly realizes the missiles pose a terrible threat to U.S. security.

Should he invade Cuba but risk a nuclear war in the process? Should he allow the missiles to remain in Cuba and risk the Soviets thinking they could bully America?

At first glance, these were

Nuke on Parade. An example of the type of missile the Soviets were placing in Cuba. This missile could have reached a U.S. city in under 5 minutes if launched from Cuba.

2. Get the facts. Be sure you have adequate information to support an intelligent choice. You can’t make good decisions if you don’t know the facts. As you gather and consider the “facts,” be mindful of the difference between facts, opinions, and assumptions. Two plus two equals four. That’s a fact. The B-2 Spirit is the world’s most excellent airplane. That’s an opinion. Cadets who exercise regularly will pass the fitness test. That’s an assumption. In the early stages of decision-making, it is easy for some information to seem factual when it isn’t.

3. Brainstorm and list your options. Brainstorming is a method of generating a large number of creative ideas.8 The key is to blurt- out any idea that comes to mind, no matter how stupid it may sound. During this stage of the problem-solving process, do not judge possible solutions; generate them. If you can not think of more than two ideas, you’re probably not thinking hard enough. If possible, seek help from people you trust because brainstorming works best when more than one person is involved. This step in the process aims to build a list of possible solutions.

Seek Help From Others?

Why would a leader want to involve other people in the decision-making process?

Kennedy’s only choices. It was an immensely stressful situation.

But he and his team worked through a decision-making process. They were creative. They looked at the problem from every possible angle.

As a result, they discovered a “third option” to solve their problem, a naval blockade that caused the Soviets to remove the missiles from Cuba.

Good leaders know how to solve problems.

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