Monday, December 2, 2013

Does Having More Choices Lead to More Satisfaction?

Modern societies perceive variety of choice as an indicator of progress. We assume that more choices and more competition create a better community. Psychologist Barry Schwartz, who is the author of "The Paradox of Choice" and a professor at Swarthmore College, argues that more choices can actually create "decision paralysis" in some of the following ways:

Anticipation of regret. We see so many options that we fear making wrong choices. Anticipating future regret makes us reluctant to choose.
Opportunity costs. When we make a subjective evaluation from among many options, visualization of the attractive features of each rejected alternative leads to "buyer's remorse."
Escalating expectations. With a wide range of choices, we expect great outcomes. We lose the opportunity to be pleasantly surprised.
Self-blame. Freedom to choose from many options means that we have no excuse for poor choices. When we make the wrong selection, we have only ourselves to blame.

Imagine that you're considering creating a RankTab for crowdsourcing decision making. You're polling employees about music preferences for the office's holiday party. Too many options may not create smarter, faster selections, so avoid listing the name of every local band or every musical genre. Instead, narrow the choices to two or three options. For example, employees could choose between a DJ, a live band or karaoke. 

After you've set up your choices, employees can make a subjective evaluation by ranking each option. RankTab purposely limits you to no more than three decision parameters to prevent decision paralysis when you're accessing collective intelligence. Each employee could rate each option according to expense, broad popularity and personal level of enjoyment. You're accessing their tacit knowledge based on their experiences both as party hosts and guests. After you've collected responses, RankTab simplifies visualization by presenting the results on an easy-to-read graph.

When you're crowdsourcing decision making, you may actually achieve smarter, faster results by introducing no more than two or three alternatives. That's why your RankTabs can most effectively tap your respondents' tacit knowledge when you offer just a few options for them to rank. Employees not only feel like part of the process; they also share responsibility for whether or not they enjoy the party. 

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