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Why you need to see two products before buying one

IT folks are all about evaluating competing things.

In fact, you might say that’s where we are most comfortable – listing pros and cons of everything from laptops to phones to which internet browser is best. But if you take away the quirky willingess to categorize the minutia of every .x-release of Linux, I would venture to say we’re not that different from everyone else. We are just much more ready to let topics like these dominate lunchtime conversations:

“Windows tablet or iPad?”

“Droid or iPhone?”

“SharePoint or WordPress?” and so on.

Finding your inner geek
I have good evidence for my claim that it’s not just IT people. We all love a good matrix, bar chart or harvey ball diagram. In fact, the Harvard Business Review publish findings from a Tulane University study, indicating the overwhelming impact that “second option” to evaluate something has on our purchasing habits.

Simply put, when shown two products side-by-side, more than 60% of those polled showed a preference to purchase one or the other. But, when shown these options seperately, only 10% said they wanted the product.

Read the full study at the Harvard Blog Network

Perhaps this means we need that feeling that we evaluated something to get the best deal before pulling the trigger. Or maybe we need to do some sort of data comparison in order to put our names on a decision. I believe the critical question to ask ourselves here is, “how are decisions made in our organization?” Once we can answer that, we can be much more effective in our roles – especially if your role is to deliver any kind of data or criteria up the chain to help decisions get made.

Did I do enough analysis?
A final thought as you weigh all those criteria – what if the decision isn’t what saves us? What if all the pros and cons are more of a distraction, than the answer?

By this, I mean that often by the time you are down to a final decision, you are weighing two extremely similar options, likely to accomplish the same thing for around the same cost. And what if “best” is relative to how you are going to back this decision?

For every two options, there’s a column three
At the end of the day, I push my colleagues to address that third column – which is – how are we going to implement this? Possibly the biggest decision to make isn’t chosing “A” over “B.” Perhaps it’s even more important to think about how you are going to implement the solution you choose. And knowing all the real obstacles facing every solution, even after the decision is made.

Source: HBR Blog Network, August 16, 2013. (http://bit.ly/16UxoMk)