Decision Fatigue and Too Many Choices

Dateline: July 4, 2014

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

Decision fatigue, the exhaustion we feel when we have to sort through many options,  may be getting in the way of IT effectiveness.   Recently, Fast Company published a blog titled, Why Having Too Many Choices is Making You Unhappy.  The author, writer Jane Porter, suggests,

Too many choices exhaust us, make us unhappy and lead us to sometimes abscond from making a decision all together. Researcher Barry Schwartz calls this “choice overload.” And it’s not just insignificant details like which brush to wipe the inside of the toilet with–having too many choices in our creative and professional lives can lead us to avoid making important decisions.

“As the number of options increases, the costs, in time and effort, of gathering the information needed to make a good choice also increase,” writes Schwartz. “The level of certainty people have about their choice decreases. And the anticipation that they will regret their choice increases.”

When we’re tired, we tend to conserve our energy by making choices based on a single factor like price, for example, rather than considering all the other determinants that go into making the best decision. When you’re doing this, you are acting as what researchers call a cognitive miser. Another study out of Columbia University shows that this happens when consumers are given a lot of features to choose from when buying a car or suit. After a while, people start asking for the default option rather than carefully weighing each decision.

When dealing with IT, there are numerous choices to be made.  One of the biggest value-adds of the IT team is to wade through those choices and present our business partners with the best options–not to make the decision for them but to give them a reasonable choice.

How do you prevent your business partners from ‘decision fatigue’ when discussing IT choices?  

That’s a WRAP!  Have a great weekend!

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