In praise of the good enough

… what the designers and engineers see as “pain points” aren’t necessarily that painful for people. The term satisficing, coined by Herbert Simon in 1956 (combining satisfy and suffice), refers to people’s tolerance — if not overall embracing — of “good enough” solutions…

Frankly, I discover satisficing in every research project: the unfiled MP3s sitting on the desktop, ill-fitting food container lids, and tangled, too-short cables connecting products are all “good enough” examples of satisficing. In other words, people find the pain of the problem to be less annoying than the effort to solve it.

I’m about a third of the way into Steve Portigal’s Interviewing Users but this bit rings especially true.

So much of the buzz around “smart cities” seems to focus on subtle optimisations and efficiencies – catching a bus a couple of minutes sooner, or turning the thermostat down a degree or two. Big data focused on small problems.

But wouldn’t the world be boring if everything was uniformly perfect? Maybe the capacity to work around life’s little frustrations is in itself a form of empowerment.

What if – for a while – we left alone all the stuff that’s good enough, and focused on delivering services that support people in making big decisions and enduring differences?

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mattedgar

Product strategy and design leadership in web and mobile media. Before that I was a newspaper journalist and history student

One thought on “In praise of the good enough”

  1. Yes! My favourite contestants on Dragon’s Den are those ones who’ve seen a tiny pain point and ruthlessly solved it only to find the Dragon’s don’t see the need. You get Duncan Bannatyne saying something like “I’m sorry but if I want to chop carrots I’ll simply use a knife, I’m out”. You can see it in their eyes. They can’t quite believe that the Dragon’s don’t get it because they’ve invested so much of themselves into believing they were solving a real problem.

    It might look like innovation and feel like innovation but somehow it’s not really innovation. ;-)

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