Checked by Choice

I used to play military games on my computer that were intuitive and simple. If I built enough battleships or bombers or tanks, and brought them against inferior forces, I would win. I played against the computer at various levels. I could choose the type of terrain.

Recently, I was offered a game of fighting tanks. The instructions alone were stupefying: dials to read, varied ways to move and fire, getting the tank out of the garage, and so on. It was too much like work. I didn’t pursue it.

Investment experts explained to me at a speech that the reason so many people leave money in zero-interest savings accounts is that the options for investing the money are too numerous for a layperson to evaluate: stocks, bonds, CDs, junk bonds, derivatives, real estate, REITs, and so on. Similarly, Best Buy employees have told me that they have to rule  television choices OUT of consideration, because the prospective buyer facing two hundred televisions screens and assorted choices for each tends to leave without buying anything.

I believe in three simple options with every proposal (or to suggest a future meeting or obtain a referral or anything else). That “choice of yeses” improves your chances of a “yes” on something. But more than three options, or three convoluted options, usually won’t work. The buyer needs more time to think them through. Forward progress is effectively checked.

“Paralysis by analysis” extends to a proliferation of choices for buyers. Don’t make it any more complicated than one, two, three.

© Alan Weiss 2014


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