Super-Optimum Solutions

Super-optimum solutions (SOS) are alternatives to public policy problems in which both liberals and conservatives -- and others holding opposing viewpoints -- come out ahead of their initial best expectations. Developed by Stuart S. Nagel, professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, super-optimum solutions offer a method of developing alternative solutions to many of the human conflicts of the world.

Briefly, the methodology involves organizing the alternatives and goals of a given situation -- usually a crisis or serious problem -- in a systematic fashion. The alternatives and goals are organized in a table. Value ratings are assigned to the various combinations of alternatives and goals, ranging from Excellent to Poor. A set of multiplier or weight factor is also assigned to the goals, reflecting the relative importance of each goal. The resulting alternatives and value ratings are then tabulated and summarized, to arrive at the optimum -- most favorable to both sides -- alternative.

There are ways of systematically reaching super-optimum solutions:

Exhibit G, The Confederation of Abraham is an example of a super-optimum solution proposed for a major conflict that afflicted the world for more than four decades. The Arab-Israeli confrontation resulted in a tremendous waste of resources on military expenditures, occasional bloody warfare, and unresolved economic, social and environmental problems. Similar major conflicts continue between Pakistan and India, and among the successor states of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.


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