Hi, I’m Astrid. I’m an organisational psychologist who specialises in anything innovation, and I’m single. Now, these two things might seem unrelated, but as you’ll see in this series, I assure you they’re not.
I once found myself looking on my dating app during a date. I mean, he was in the bathroom at the time, I wasn’t literally doing it in his face, but still. I kind of liked this guy, but I wanted to see what else was out there before deciding whether I wanted to go on another date with him. Also, there was opportunity cost. Dating guy A meant not dating guy B. What if guy B was my perfect match but he now decided to go for girl X while I was stuck with guy A?! There seemed to be a lot of talent on the app. We didn’t go on another date.
Dating is confusing. There is a lot of supply (the app sends me 5 matches A DAY), but there are limited resources (just me) to deal with all this supply. And then there are all the questions I have to answer! Should I date lots of men or just focus on a few in an effort to find my perfect match? Is there even such a thing?
It’s a bit like ideas after an Ideation session. The output of a best-practice Ideation session is a high quantity of ideas, each of which solves the problem(s) the ideation session set out to solve. But I’d like to focus on two negative effects of having all this choice. First, it paralyses decision makers (there are so many options that it seems impossible to make a choice about which ideas to progress); and second, when they do choose, they feel less satisfied than they would have felt if they had less options – even though the result of having more options is a higher quality outcome. When expectations (driven by having a higher quantity of choices) go up, satisfaction goes down: it is the paradox of choice.
As a result of this paradox, what we sometimes see happening in organisations is that people fall into the trap of thinking that perhaps they would be better off with fewer ideas. After all, that makes decision-making and progressing ideas much better right? Wrong. What research has shown over and over again is that when it comes to Ideation, quantity leads to quality. We need lots of diverse ideas in order to increase the quality (level of creativity, diversity, breadth, novelty, etc.) of the output – even when this results in feeling less satisfied. So when it comes to a best-practice ideation session, more is definitely more, because the increase in quality which comes out of the quantity means we end up with a better outcome – a better idea that is eventually implemented.
So I guess that with dating, I shouldn’t be narrowing my focus too early. The “better outcome” is more likely if I am choosing from a larger and more diverse pool, even if the paradox of choice makes me feel like fewer options will make me happier.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an app to go to.