A great design solution usually doesn’t show up first in line. It doesn’t have a T-Shirt that says “I’m the best answer”. It’s hard to know when you struck gold and when you struck plain dirt. This is the same for hiring employees. Who knows if the “next” candidate will be even better than this one? What about spouses? How do you know the next spouse-candidate won’t be even better than the first one? (note: 500 days of Summer is a good movie on that last question).
Satisficing requires that you accept the first answer that meets the criteria for acceptance. Sometimes, this is the right approach, but for a key feature or employee (or spouse), you sometimes need to raise the bar higher. Maximizing isn’t fun either. So how do you know?
Personally, I went through this in the last few days with a design challenge. I had a design that felt “acceptable” but didn’t feel great. It felt slightly awkward, like an ill-fitting suit. It satisfied the requirements, but that was all. Should I have accepted that design? It was like an itch in my mind that wouldn’t go away unless I kept designing through it.
I found another solution, which felt better. Yet, still I had this itch. I changed course again. Each try was a wild departure from the previous. All were acceptable, yet none were satisfying the itch. Finally, on the 4th or 5th rev, I stumbled upon the right idea. My brain suddenly switched gears and said, “Ahhhh, that feels good”. No more itch.
You have to trust your instincts when things aren’t right. Keep iterating or switching to new strategies until your unconscious gives you the green light. Sometimes this takes a little longer, but the end result will be much better for your users.