This is a guest blog by Pamela A. Scott
Do you struggle to make decisions? Most of us do—at least when dealing with something significant.
Do you find yourself trapped by analysis paralysis? Many of us do. We think and we think and we think, and then we think some more. And maybe we eventually act.
I believe decision-making and analysis paralysis are intertwined. You can throw decision fatigue into that mix as well. Decision fatigue occurs because we simply have too many decisions to make on any given day. Check out this site for lots more on decision fatigue.
In his book “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less,” Barry Schwartz delves into why we struggle to make decisions.
285 Types of Cookies, Oh My!
In his neighborhood supermarket, he found 285 varieties of cookies. Can you pick just one? The average supermarket carries nearly 40,000 items for you to pick from. It gives me a headache to even think about those choices.
You may be thinking: “Great, Pam. Thanks for telling me something I already know. Tell me something I don’t know that will make all this easier.”
Meet the word “satisfice.” It is a combination of “satisfy” and “suffice,” according to the Urban Dictionary. The more traditional Merriam-Webster defines “satisfice” as to pursue the minimum satisfactory condition or outcome.
Go back to your decision-making and analysis paralysis issues. Can you come up with an answer that will satisfice? Remember: 80% is better than perfect.
That’s an answer that will satisfy you and others involved. It’s an answer that will suffice to shut down your analysis paralysis.
Are You a Maximizer or a Satisficer?
Maximizers get stuck in the decision loop because they are always looking for the perfect answer. They research, then research more, and so on. This way of thinking is exhausting. And can result in poor choices.
According to Psychologist World: “Given that maximisers task themselves with making the most informed, intelligent decisions, we might expect that the outcome of their approach would be superior, more satisfying decisions. Yet, this assumption has been contradicted by numerous studies, which have found that maximisers are often less effective in a decision-making environment and suffer under the pressure of high self-expectations. Setting unachievable goals for ourselves may itself impede our ultimate goal when making choices — making a choice that we will be satisfied with.”
Satisficers, on the other hand, evaluate options until they find a solution that is good enough. They tend to be pragmatic and look for cost savings. They ask such questions as “Is it perfect? No? Will it do the job? Yes.”
Schwartz advises: “The trick is to learn to embrace and appreciate sacrificing … It makes regret less likely. In the complex, choice-saturated world we live in, it makes peace of mind possible.”
Watch Schwartz’s TED talk for an entertaining discussion of making choices. You’ll be glad you did.
About the Author Pamela A. Scott
Pam is an executive coach to CEOs and business owners, focusing on communication, managing people, leadership, and emotional intelligence. Her tagline says it best: “Numbers may drive the business, but people drive the numbers.”®
Pam started her company more than 20 years ago. For much of that time, Pam has coached engineers and architects to be leaders in their companies.
She brings more than 25 years of communications expertise and leadership experience as:
- A national award-winning newspaper editor
- A communications specialist writing for Congress
- A successful entrepreneur specializing in coaching clients to reach their full potential
Clients have ranged from solo practitioners to companies such as Turner Broadcasting System, Coca Cola, Federal Reserve Bank, and engineering firms such as Walter P. Moore. For 15 years, Pam was a member of Vistage, an international organization of CEOs.
Pam has a master’s in education and human development from George Washington University and a bachelor’s in communication from Bethany College. In Toastmasters, she has achieved Advanced Communicator Bronze and Advanced Leadership Bronze levels.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on how you beat analysis paralysis.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success