December 4, 2008

Do group solutions to your business problems just satisfice?

In the book Tools for Teams by Thompson, Aranda, and Robbins, satisfice is a dynamic term created by combining the words satisfy and sacrifice. It means that instead of exploring multiple alternatives to find the best solution in a meeting, you or one of your teams goes with the first idea that satisfies the most people in the meeting room. By doing so you and your teams risk sacrificing a better solution because everyone chooses not to explore new or more creative ideas because some conflict may result or perhaps everyone was in too much of a hurry to move onto something else. With satisficing, you and your teams may have to revisit the problem later because you did not find the best solution before going into action. Whenever possible, reduce or stop the rework by taking a little more time to: generate more ideas, use a problem solving process, and initiate a defined decision-making method other than voting or perceived consensus which may really result in an insufficient compromise.

NOTE: Another version of the term satisfice was coined by the economist Herbert Simon in his book Models of Bounded Rationality and Other Topics in Economics where his term combined the words satisfy and suffice.

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