Satisfice Your Work With Care

Imagine you are shopping for new running shoes, but you feel tired after a long day. So you browse quickly through one store, narrow the search to a couple of pairs, make a quick decision to buy one and go.  Did you get the best deal?  Was it the optimum fit?  Probably not to both questions because you just engaged in satisficing.

Satisficing is a decision-making strategy that satisficeentails searching through the available alternatives until an acceptability threshold is met.  (Satisficing = Satisfy + Suffice)  Often this is a viable strategy since searching for the perfect product or solution would run into the law of diminishing returns where additional effort leads to fewer results.  So a natural tendency is to find the first good choice and stop there. While satisficing can be a good short term option, it may result in long term inefficiencies.  The quick purchase of running shoes now could produce regret over the colors and painful blisters a few days later.

I challenge you to be very careful about accepting satisficing in the workplace.  What seems like the easy way out can lead to long term productivity loss.  For example thinking “Do I really need to empty my inbox?  I checked the new messages and that’s good enough;” can quickly turn a clear head of “mind like water” into a foggy pool of “muddy water.”  If you want to succeed in the martial art of work, be prepared to put in the effort to improve every day and not accept the easy solution.  Satisfice with care when it comes to the things that matter in order to avoid later regret.

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