Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

19 Mar 2006, 15:26 p.m.


Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2006 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

In this week's column I talk about the word on the tip of my tongue.

The most powerful word I've learned in the past decade is probably "satisfice." Researcher Herb Simon coined this word, a combination of "satisfy" and "suffice," to describe a common decision-making method: instead of evaluating all possible options, we take the first adequate one. We often don't have the time or resources to find the optimal solution, so we quickly satisfice instead. I've taken to reminding myself to satisfice when ordering in restaurants. If I hadn't learned the word, I might not be using the concept.