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5 Mar 2012

Management Lessons from Online Dating

There are management lessons from online dating.

The management lessons from online dating help us see how adaptive we must be.

The article, “The Modern Matchmakers,” from the February 11, 2012 edition of The Economist contained two major business lessons that I’ve discussed earlier regarding the solving of people-related problems:

  1. What people think they want isn’t necessarily what they will choose
  2. When faced with too much choice, people have less energy to think about them

Speed Dating

For example, the article cites the work of Eli Finkel of Northwestern University on speed-dating in which he found that “people’s stated preference at the beginning of the process do not match the characters of the individuals they actually like.” Furthermore, “that when faced with abundant choice, people pay less attention to characteristics that require thinking and conversation to evaluate . . . and more to matters physical.” In short, just as Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University and Mark Lepper of Stanford concluded that too much choice is demotivating,” Finkel found it can dull thinking processes.

Main Management Lessons from Online Dating

As I had also done in an earlier post on online dating, we can translate these themes to our business efforts by asking three questions:

  1. How much freedom does someone want?
  2. What does someone really want; what will he really do or decide?
  3. How much (and what kind of) thinking will someone require from a leader?

These further translate into more tactical questions for managers and executives such as:

  1. How much flexibility or process must I give someone?
  2. What differences do I see between what he wants and what he actually does?
  3. What kind of decisions do I give her to make and what (or when) do I decide for her?

Complicating this further is the fact that the answers will vary for each employee, requiring deeper and more interpersonal skills from managers and leaders. Are your managers up for the challenge?


Previous post on online dating:  What the Failures of Online Dating Can Teach Us


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