The maximizer test as workshop introduction

Co-creation workshops are something special for most of the people. These workshops are not about creating the perfect solution. But they are about finding the optimal solution, or interesting solutions to work on. Co-creation workshops are also limited. We can’t address everything in a single workshop. And we have to shut down some discussions because they are out of focus. All this can be quite frustrating for newcomers in the world of workshops.


We can use a great tool to help workshop attendees feel less frustrated about the workshop method and outcome. In his book, The Paradox of Choice, psychologist Barry Schwartz presents the Maximizer Test. This simple 2-minute test that everyone can do shows if you are either a Maximizer or a Satisfier. Maximizers are people who tend to search for the best and perfect solution. They will be hard to please they need to go over every tiny detail before they can make a decision. Satisfiers are people who search the optimal solution. It doesn’t need to be perfect; it has to work within the predefined goal. Satisfiers are individuals who feel good in workshops. They see the goal and can help to find the optimal solution faster. Maximizer usually doesn’t feel well in workshops. They can’t stop before they evaluated and compared every possibility. At the start of a new workshop asking people to take the Maximizer test will show who could have a difficult time. 


You can then explain to people who are Maxmimizers: «You will suffer, and that’s normal». «You are a Maximizer, which in your job is perfect. But today it’s about quick and dirty. Today is about optimal, not perfect.». We need to re-assure people. We need to explain to them that being a Maximizer isn’t a disease. We have to make clear that workshop will just not feel natural to them. Continue then by giving the rules of the game. «There will be times in the workshops when discussion will be too particular on tiny details. In those time, I will tell you: we are shifting into the maximizer mode. Let’s stop this debate and go back to find the optimal and not the perfect solution».


By using the Maximizer test as a workshop introduction, we lower the frustration. But even better, we can create a common language. A shared language that will help re-focus the workshop when it’s going off the road.