For more than half a century, scientists have been studying the fact that too much choice makes people unhappy. This has been dubbed “the paradox of choice.” In this article, we explore the impact of “choices” and provide several tips to structure your team in such a way as to avoid some of the stress and anxiety related to finding the “right” fit for your organization.
The New Yorker recently ran an article on this topic entitled, “When it’s Bad to Have Good Choices“. In this article, the writer mentions the theory of Buridan’s ass: an apocryphal donkey that finds itself standing between two equally appealing stacks of hay. Unable to decide which to consume, it starves to death. Further, the author cites one study which showed that when shoppers were presented with six choices they had a much easier time making a decision than when presented with twenty-four or thirty items. This wasn’t that surprising. However, what was interesting was when the number of choices was smaller they discovered that the level of satisfaction about the choice was also higher. This reality was neatly summed up by another researcher who concluded, “When you have more good choices, you don’t feel better. You just feel more anxious.”
As an Association or Nonprofit Executive, you and your staff may be overwhelmed by how many software choices there are on the market today. In fact, we have compiled well over 70 Membership Software Solutions and equally as many Donor Nonprofit Solutions for you to review on our site. That said, when shopping for nonprofit software, remember it’s natural to be overwhelmed and anxious when presented with too many choices. In an earlier post, we offered 10 tips for narrowing your selection from the options available. Below we offer some tips for how to approach the software selection project in order to work together to reduce some of the potential anxiety.
1. Form a Selection Team — Getting a group to agree on anything is a challenge, but that’s the benefit of having a team make the selection. Include team members from different departments, with different levels of responsibility. In the selection team, decide what will be a “Good Software Choice”. For small organizations, The Executive Director should be involved!
2. Acknowledge the Paradox of choice– The project leader will need to gather the team and discuss the reality that having too many choices causes anxiety. Ask people to let the team leader know when anxiety is creeping in. The expression “forewarned is forearmed” is very fitting here!
3. Make Sure Everyone’s Voice is Heard — Ask each member of the team to come up with a list of things the software must be able to do. The more extensive the needs of the group, the fewer software options there will be to consider. Don’t forget your members and donors!
4. Brainstorm Ways to Reduce the Number of Options — Members of the team may already have experience with certain companies or types of software that will make it easy to eliminate them from the list of contenders. Or they may know that only a few software providers can meet the needs of the group. Go to your peers for feedback as well!
5. Divide and Conquer — Give individual members of the team specific assignments. Each person can be charged with becoming an expert in one or two areas, and researching software options based solely on these factors. This keeps things simple and prevents information overload. It also turns an ad hoc team into a group of members with specialized expertise. Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. – Henry Ford.
Are you in the midst of a choice like Buridan’s Ass? If you don’t have the time, resources, or experience to embark on a software selection journey, you may find a lot of value in a software advisement firm.
Please contact us for your “Free Software Advisement” today.