More or Less Choices?

Whatever it is you're leading - whether a corporation, church, or family, there is a pressure to satisfy as many people as possible. We all feel it, even if we aren't "people-pleasers" by nature. 

Most often, our instincts tell us that the way to satisfy the most people is to offer more choices. We feel as if, for example, the way to satisfy more customers is to expand our product line. The way to satisfy more church members is to offer more choices in programming or worship style. The way to satisfy more of our kids is to offer a buffet every night for dinner. 

The truth is, this is one area where our instincts will almost always lead us astray. 

In reality, more choices lead to what Chip and Dan Heath in their book Switch call "decision paralysis." They say, "more options, even good ones, can freeze us..." When we have too many choices, we normally revert to whatever the status quo is in order to minimize risk; we don't want to choose wrong so we don't choose at all. The result is, we still find ourselves dissatisfied. 

The other problem with offering more choices is that the desire for more choices is insatiable. I go to the pizza buffet where I have access to an unlimited supply of pizza with an ability to request any combination I desire, and leave frustrated because they don't have green olives on their make table. If people have the illusion of limitless choices, they'll almost inevitably fixate on the one thing they can't have. 

My experience is that you normally satisfy more people when you limit the choices, do what you can do well, and resist the temptation to try to satisfy everyone; you'll only make them more unhappy.