Real Options

Session Objectives

Learn how to apply Real Options, a decision making technique that underlies Agile and Lean methods.

Intended Audience and Pre-Requisites

No previous knowledge required. Everybody can learn and benefit from Real Options.


Lean tells us to “delay decisions to the last responsible moment”. Good advice, but what is the last responsible moment? Real Options tells us when to decide.

Agile User Stories claim that we can define better requirements faster and with less information. Real Options explains why User Stories work.

Lean Set-Based concurrent engineering, where many options are explore in parallel, seems like a slow and wasteful technique. Real Options explains why set-based design works and how we can increase our chances of successful delivery by constantly evaluating our existing options and increasing our options.

Real Options is “Bottled Common Sense”.

Real Options is a decision-making process for managing uncertainty and risk. It’s a simple and powerful approach that helps us make better informed decisions by understanding and responding to the psychological effects uncertainty has on our behaviour, both as individuals and in groups.

This session is an introduction to Real Options and aims to give you the theory you need to put it into practice at work and at home.

A Real Option has:

  • A value.
  • An expiration date or condition.
  • A cost for buying the option as well as exercising the option.

Real Options thinking means:

  • You don’t have to decide now, but you do know when you have to make a decision.
  • You keep as many options open for as long as possible.
  • You actively gather information to maximise your understanding of each option until the moment you have to decide.
  • You only commit when you must or when you have a good reason to.





Background information