You are in a restaurant. You look at the menu. There are a wide variety of choices. You quickly zero in on an item that catches your eye. You stop well short of scanning the menu. Two minutes in and you made your choice.
You’re a Satisficer
While you’re in the restaurant, you go over the menu. In your mind, you put checkmarks next to each item you may want. You now have a list of 6 items. You weigh them against multiple criteria. Hmmm, this one tastes so good but it’s so fattening. This one is my favorite but it’s so much money. While this is one of my favorite dishes, it doesn’t go with any of the wines I like on the menu. After 10 minutes, you’re ready to order.
You’re an Optimizer
According to Psychology Today, psychologists have found that people’s approaches to decision-making tend to fit into one of two categories: you are either a maximizer – a person who strives to make a choice that will give them the maximum benefit later on – or a satisficer, whose choices are determined by more modest criteria and nothing more.
Developed by Nobel Prize-winning economist and presented in a 1956 paper, Herbert A. Simon, created these mashed-up terms by combining the words ‘satisfying’ and ‘sufficing’. He developed the idea in a 1956 paper, Rational choice and the structure of the environment, as a way of explaining a particular form of decision-making.
Are you a maximizer? Do you agonize over every decision? Do you seek perfection and the cost of progress? Do you expend a significant headspace cycle time regretting past decisions?
That’s not a bad thing, but sometimes it gets in the way of progress.
General Patton screams, I’m a satisficer when he said,
” good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
Satisficers make decisions quickly. They take risks. They can be rash.
According to the research, great leaders make decisions with partial information. They take calculated risks. They learn from their mistakes but they don’t beat themselves up or dwell on decisions that have gone bad.
Can a Maximizer be a great leader? Absolutely, and yet they must weigh the cost of perfection. How perfection is the enemy of the good.
Are satisficers perfect leaders? No. Satisficers need council from Maximizers to balance the impulse to make rash decisions.
Take this quick quiz and see where you fall on the Satisficer/Maximizer scale.
Whether you are a maximizer or a satisficer, coaching can help moderate your need for perfection or your imperfect decision-making. Want to see how that works? Try a complimentary 1-hour coaching session. Schedule it here: