Saturday, May 4, 2013

Satisficing and the Siren's Song - Same or Different?

In a post about avoiding change I shared my experience and presented the concept of the "siren". I then recalled a much older post about Satisficing. At first there seemed to be a contradiction. I mean, how can I tell you not to fall for the spell of the siren while I'm the one telling you to be a satisficer? Seems like double standard, but it isn't. So, I figured clarification is in order.

First off, let's recall the overcoming resistance to change video, where change is basically compared to climbing a mountain to reach the "pot of gold". I'll use mountain climbing to explain my point, then. So let's agree that we set our goal to be climbing up a very tall mountain. Not a very hard mountain, no tricky technique needed, it's all just walking up a mountain. That's not to say it won't be hard. The elevation is high and there will be oxygen considerations, for example.We have defined what we want to achieve - we want to reach the highest peak of the mountain. our pot of gold is quite clear then, the sense of achievement.

Now that we have our goal set out and defined well we make a plan - we need to get in shape, train, learn the necessary skills, purchase equipment. There is stuff to be done, targets and milestones to achieve in the quest to the top of the mountain.

The optimizer will go into analysis paralysis quiet early in the process. This character will do a full research on everything - tents, sleeping bags, garments, training protocols. The need is to know what is the best of anything and everything. Time goes by and there is no progress because things aren't perfect. How can you start training if you don't know what is the best protocol and what is the best nutrition? When, at last, things do start happening they are slow because everything has to be perfect. You can't move to the next stage or the next piece of equipment until you get this stage or this piece just right. When climbing the mountain, anything but getting to the very top will be considered a failure for this type. Even if the "pot of gold" has been discovered, the peak must still be conquered, and an exhaustive search must be undertaken to ensure that the pot of gold is THE pot of gold and there is no other, better, pot.

The satisficer will move quite briskly through the paces. The targets are there for a reason and that reason defines the bar to achieve. So if a tent is called for, it's because sleeping out at night will be cold on the mountain, so a tent good enough for the expected temperatures is needed. Find out a good source of knowledge about tents, get an answer which is good enough for these temps and get a tent, on to the next task. Is this the best tent there is? Who cares, It is good enough, it'll do the job needed. Training will be handled much the same way. Each phase is there for a reason, a certain bar that must be attained. Once you reach that bar, the fact that more can be achieved is not a hurdle. The satisficer may try to improve the result, but it is not imperative so if there is time for more training it will be done, but if there is not, no problem. Then, on the mountain, this type will have a point where, having gone this far, finding a pot of gold, she will feel accomplished. So, while going all the way to the top is an appealing option, she will have no problem finishing the climb earlier if need be. When I prompt you to be a satisficer, this is what I'm talking about - go for good enough.

A person under the spell of the siren song will do nothing, no preparation, no training, no climbing. This person will want to reach the summit, will envy those who do and even those who try. Still, nothing will be done. The current situation seems safe and comfortable. So even though there is a desire, no effort is put forth, not even a little try, one that comes at basically no risk. No looking at equipment, no training that's good for your health anyways. Nothing. Not even climbing a small hill, just for fun. This person is stuck in the "comfort" of the bland current situation - settling for far less than possible.

It is clear now that the satisficer is not under the sirens spell. The satisficer makes change happen and balances effort with reward, leaving the optimizer and those listening to sirens song far behind.

I have more ideas on this subject but first I'd like to know can you relate to this? let me know what you think and subscribe to get more post from this blog.
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