More about Maximizers

By Marc Resnick

I have often talked about the difference between maximizers and satisficers.  Maximizers are people who always try to get the best result.  They look through as many options as possible and struggle to compare them all.  They are susceptible to buyer’s remorse and procrastinate decisions.
Satisficers are people who look for an option that is “good enough” but don’t care if there might be a better one out there.  They have less stress, tend to be happier, healthier, and more positive.
I just read a paper that finds it’s a little more complicated than this, but explains it better.  It turns out there are really two kinds of maximizers.  Some people search for more alternatives and therefore make the decision harder by juggling more information.  These are the people that have loss aversion and are less happy.
On the other hand, people who have high standards can still be satisficers.  They just set the bar for ‘good enough’ a little higher than others.  These people can still be happy and stressfree.
So the trick isn’t to have low standards, it is to accept the world as it is.  When you find something good enough, don’t worry if there is a better option out there.  Don’t try to find the best, just set your standards high enough and accept the first option you find that meets this threshold. Not only will you end up with good outcomes, you will be happier and more satisfied with them and with life in general.
How can we apply this on the job floor?  It’s about how your employees (and managers) make decisions day to day.  The difference between satisficers and maximizers is not just about degree, it is a fundamental difference in strategy.  Figure out what the threshold is that will satisfy your production requirements, resource limitations, and keep the customer satisfied.  Then once you know what the threshold is, go with the first idea that will reliably achieve this level.  Don’t worry about the hypothetical better option out there somewhere.
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