Clarify, Don’t Oversimplify

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Many of us are on a quest to simplify our lives, reduce our clutter and improve our focus. This is a positive step that can improve our lives, but unfortunately it doesn’t work at all when applied to our decision making.

When situations are complex, it is tempting to oversimplify them so we can move on and make a quick decision. This practice, though, sets us up for poor decision making and ethical mistakes.

“‘Satisficing’ leads the managerial leader to alternatives that tend to be easy to formulate, familiar, and close to the status quo. When one grapples with complex ethical considerations, this approach to decision making may not produce the best solutions.”

Charles D. Kerns, Graziadio Business Review, Pepperdine University

Kern’s term ‘satisficing’ makes me think of sacrificing the complexity of an issue to satisfy our need to move forward. It reminds me of our tendency to want things to be simpler than they really are, because digging into complex issues takes some effort.

This week, take a moment to consider where you might be ‘satisficing’ when you should be clarifying.

About Linda Fisher Thornton
Linda Fisher Thornton is Founder and CEO of Leading in Context, and author of the award-winning book 7 Lenses. She teaches as Adjunct Assoc. Prof. for University of Richmond SPCS. She is leading a movement to help leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.

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