Alternative (noun.)

Definition: Something available as another possibility.

Also referenced as: Alternatives (noun)

Related to: Bias, Choice, Direction, History, Language, Myths, Option, Structure



The word alternative was used 7 times across 7 pages


Chapter 1: Identify the Mess | Page 17

A stakeholder is someone who has a viable and legitimate interest in the work you're doing. Our stakeholders can be partners in business, life, or both.

Managers, clients, coworkers, spouses, family members, and peers are common stakeholders.

Sometimes we choose our stakeholders; other times, we don't have that luxury. Either way, understanding our stakeholders is crucial to our success. When we work against each other, progress comes to a halt.

Working together is difficult when stakeholders see the world differently than we do.

But we should expect opinions and personal preferences to affect our progress. It's only human to consider options and alternatives when we're faced with decisions.

Most of the time, there is no right or wrong way to make sense of a mess. Instead, there are many ways to choose from. Sometimes we have to be the one without opinions and preferences so we can weigh all the options and find the best way forward for everyone involved.



Chapter 4: Choose a Direction | Page 75

A controlled vocabulary doesn't have to end with terms you intend to use. Go deeper by defining terms and concepts that misalign with your intent.

For the sake of clarity, you can also define:

In my experience, a list of things you don't say can be even more powerful than a list of things you do. I've been known to wear a whistle and blow it in meetings when someone uses a term from the don't list.



Chapter 4: Choose a Direction | Page 78

As you talk through your controlled vocabulary, listen for stories and images people associate with each term.

Language has history. Synonyms and alternatives abound. Myths can get in your way too, unless you're willing to uncover them.

Gather the following about each term:

When it comes to language, people are slow to change and quick to argue. Documenting these details will help you make your controlled vocabulary as clear and useful as possible.



Chapter 4: Choose a Direction | Page 79

Nouns represent each of the objects, people, and places involved in a mess.

As an example, a post is a noun commonly associated with another noun, an author.

Verbs represent the actions that can be taken.

A post (n.) can be: written, shared, deleted, or read.

Verbs don't exist without nouns. For example, an online share button implies that it will share this post.

Nouns are often created as a result of verbs. A post only exists after posting

It's easy to adopt terms that are already in use or to be lazy in choosing our language. But when you're deciding which words to use, it is important to consider the alternatives, perceptions, and associations around each term.

How would your work be different if "authors writing posts" was changed to "researchers authoring papers," or "followers submitting comments?"



Chapter 4: Choose a Direction | Page 85

Are you facing a mess like Rasheed's? Do your stakeholders speak the same language? Do you collectively speak the same language as your users? What language might be troublesome in the context of what you are doing? What concepts need to be better understood or defined?

To control your vocabulary:



Chapter 5: Measure the Distance | Page 91

  • Satisfaction: Are customers happy with what you're delivering against your promises?
  • Kudos: How often do people praise you for your efforts or contributions?
  • Profit: How much was left over after expenses?
  • Value: What would someone pay for it?
  • Loyalty: How likely are your users to return?
  • Traffic: How many people used, visited, or saw what you made?
  • Conversion: What percentage of people acted the way you hoped they would?
  • Spread: How fast is word getting around about what you're doing?
  • Perception: What do people believe about what you're making or trying to achieve?
  • Competition: Who has similar intents to yours?
  • Complaints: How many users are reaching out about an aspect of your product or service?
  • Backlash: What negative commentary do you receive or expect?
  • Expenses: How much did you spend?
  • Debt: How much do you owe?
  • Lost time: How many minutes, hours, or days did you spend unnecessarily?
  • Drop-off: How many people leave without taking the action you hoped they would?
  • Waste: How much do you discard, measured in materials and time?
  • Murk: What alternative truths or opinions exist about what you're making or trying to achieve?


Chapter 6: Play with Structure | Page 112

Sequence is the order in which something is experienced. Some sequences happen in a logical order, where the steps are outlined ahead of time.

Other sequences are more complex with alternative paths and variations based on the circumstances, preferences, or choices of the user or the system.

These are all examples of sequences:

  • A software installation wizard
  • New patient sign-up forms
  • A refund process at a retail store
  • A job application
  • A recipe
  • A fiction book
  • The checkout process on a website

Like any taxonomy, the categories and labels you choose affect how clear a sequence is to use.