Freakonomics has published an article about the psychologist Barry Schwartz’s book “ “. The book makes the argument that (apart from economists) most people would find too much choice a bad thing and would rather having less choice than more.
I referred in an earlier post (“Rational decision making process? Not really!“) to a publication by CSIRO that dispels some ‘conventional wisdom’ perceptions. One of the findings of that study was that when faced with too much complexity people will tend to prefer making no decision at all.
I know that one cannot simply infer from the above arguments to situations encountered in a highly professional environment, as it could be argued that decision making processes at executive levels will most likely be carried out by individuals trained in the art of making decisions, in which case it could be expected that they will be less prone to fall into the traps outlined above. Having said that, as project managers we need to be aware of these basic human tendencies and realize that in most cases, too much information is bad information and that if we want to minimize the load on decision makers’ time we’d better present to them a small and concise set of choices from which they could possible choose.