What is the difference that makes us select only a good enough solution instead of finding the best possible solution? It might all come down to the concept of “Satisficing”, a combination of the words satisfy and sacrifice.
Satisficing has been introduced into modern decision-making by psychologist Herbert Simon and has received attention as an alternative to optimal decision-making strategies. It also helps to understand and explain decision-making that lead to sub-optimal outcomes.
Theory: finding the optimal decision
The Theory of Optimal Decision making assumes that humans strive to make decisions in a way that no other available decision option will lead to a better outcome.
It turns out that while this concept is in theory conclusive, real-world decision-making follows a different strategy.
Practice: finding the first solution that works
In reality, we often strive for the first decision that works. Simon realized this as well, stating that “[...] most complex problems are solved using an approach called “satisficing”. Satisficing means accepting the first solution that works, rather than seeking the best possible or optimal solution”
In other words, organizations are happy to find any needle in a haystack, rather than searching for the sharpest needle in the haystack.
Awareness about your decision-making bias
There is nothing inherently wrong with a satisficing decision-making strategy, it is just necessary to be aware of your own cognitive bias.
Especially in situations when one is stuck with “analysis paralysis”, the deadlock of gathering and analyzing data to find all possible decision options, forcing yourself to identify and pursue one decision that works could be a way out of being stuck.
Nevertheless situations when you become extraordinarily excited by a potential solution (i.e. the “brilliant” new marketing idea or the “revolutionary” startup idea) it might be helpful to take a step back and reflect whether you are prematurely satisficing or have indeed found the best potential solution.
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