Choice is hard

This talk by Barry Schwartz is from 2005. Eight years and much has changed. The basic premise has not. People get it even if they don’t know it. The pendulum is swinging, as it does, toward the middle choice. That place where on one side we have 275 different salad dressings in the super market and on the other we have the wildly successful Trader Joe’s. On one hand whole sections of produce available 365 days of the year regardless of season and on the other we have the popularity of the CSA. Seems that many people are choosing to have less choice rather than more. That’s right, choosing to have less choice.

In the book Velocity by Ajaz Ahmed and Stefan Olander, Ajaz says,

Don’t just give people choice, help them choose.

By curating choices it is possible to get past the paralysis that Mr. Schwartz talks about. By helping people choose we have a chance to achieve the desired outcome which is to choose ours.

Curating choice is hard work.

It is much easier to throw it all out there and let the people decide. It is easier to supply choice as the virtue that we’re led to believe that it is. It is much harder to create a product or program that has so much value that it is the right thing for the right people. We get so stuck in trying to please everyone with choice that we miss being great to the people that want or need it the most.

It is risky to put all of your resources into making one great product. It is risky to make a stand on what is the right thing. It is risky and presumptuous to think that you know the right choice for your customers. But that is exactly what the great ones do.


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