Executive Search Choice Paradox
In executive search, headhunters are faced with a choice paradox. Research has found the more choice we have, the more anxious and the less satisfied we become. Consequently, that sets up the executive search choice paradox. The more candidates on a slate of finalists, the less satisfied clients become. To make everyone happier, we should limit finalists to a number we can count on one hand. To facilitate a totally Zen executive search experience, dial back the number of finalists.
Psychologist Barry Schwartz has conducted research that demonstrates abundance robs us of satisfaction. The research suggests we would be better off if we embraced “voluntary constraints on our freedom of choice, instead of rebelling against them”. Ironically, Schwartz learned that instead of seeking the “best” choice, we would be better off seeking “good enough”. In other words, “good enough” is actually better than the “best”.
In Mr. Schwartz’s book The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less, he makes the argument that eliminating consumer choices can reduce the anxiety of shoppers.
Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.
While conventional wisdom holds that the more choices we have, the better off we are, in reality, the opposite appears to be true if we want to feel satisfied with the decisions we make.
So in executive search, as in life, less is more.