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Topics: Scope Management, Stakeholder Management
Maximization or satisficing. Which decision-making style suits project management (or you) the best?
Satisficing is a decision-making strategy or cognitive heuristic that entails searching through the available alternatives until an acceptability threshold is met.

Maximization is a style of decision-making characterized by seeking the best option through an exhaustive search through alternatives. It is contrasted with satisficing, in which individuals evaluate options until they find one that is "good enough".
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Eduard -

I'd suggest that Satisficing is usually all we have time for on projects given pressures to complete delivery and lack of availability of full information.

Maximization at a project level is largely an idealized concept. Most projects have multiple, often competing, qualities which we would like to maximize. Many are difficult to measure or purely subjective.

Constructing some value to combine all the qualities and allow fair comparison is not an easy task. The measures are often subjective so comparing them is subjective. There is a lot of work in computer modeling to come up with ways to determine better or worse based on different variables, but it is not often used in practice.

An exhaustive search of alternatives usually boils down to: We looked at a lot of things and like this one best, for a variety of reasons, some quantitative and others qualitative.
I think one's decision-making strategy is all about risk tolerance and management and the concept of diminishing returns. With 'Satisficing' you have to be concerned with not going far enough (insufficient effort) - with 'Maximization' the worry is in going too far (more effort than can be recovered.).

If you're involved in a moon shot I would expect Maximization - little opportunity for adjustment or recovery during implementation (high risk).

If you are delivering a standard manufacturing or distribution facility Satisficing may be more appropriate as adjustment and recovery during construction is feasible and most likely not prohibitive (low risk).

AS I am more likely to be involved in delivering construction projects my style is more Satisficing then Maximization.
Interesting question Eduard,

For me, maximization is looking out for more options, being creative and do out of the box thinking. On the other hand, this risks to go too far in specific and project situations. Judgement is needed to understand when enough is enough. But a given set of options will never be good enough, you must give it a second thought, or even an experiment.

Maximization is a bit of divergent thinking, as part of design thinking.
From a project delivery view, it is more about finding solutions to problems and finding win-win situations.

Pure satisficing never works either, it is similar to compromizing, often leading to the least worse solution. It's long term consequences will hit you afterwards. It also can be unethical when you do not practice professional prudence by questioning the options at hand.

It is kind of convergent thinking (closing down on a solution), also a part of design thinking.
From a project delivery view, this is what many do, deliver what has been specified. It may result in loose-loose situtions.

So, as a project manager I use maximizing as a default, and apply my judgement when to limit it.

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"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

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