Thursday, May 31, 2007

Maximizers Versus Satisfiers

When it comes to making choices, some of us are "maximizers," who want the "very best" (e.g., the "most," the "best value," the "best taste," the "most fun," etc.). And, some of us are "satisfiers," who want what is "good enough" to satisfy our needs.

When it comes to the science behind nutrition, I'm definitely a "maximizer." I want the very best science, the most researched ingredients, the doses proven to promote health most effectively, and so on. I can be relentless in fussing over details of a formula or evaluating a supplier. I'm fussy about a lot of things in life, like color and flow -- whether in a room or in a brochure.

When it comes to taste, I'm much more of a "satisfier." Good enough is, well, good enough. It's sometimes a joke among family and friends that I prefer things "tepid" versus really hot or really cold, that I never use a recipe and just make do with what's at hand and create something that, while not impressive for company, is good and nutritious and satisfying.

Steve, on the other hand, is a fine chef and can tell whether a sauce needs "more acid" or how ingredients combine to make a certain, unusual taste.

Tess and I have been through all the tasting rounds for Constant Health and we were okay with the flavor a couple of cycles back. Jack, who is health-conscious, felt the formula was already better than some of the commercial products he has tried, good enough to take for nutritional benefits, but still not something he could rave about.

Steve, on the other hand, wrote a page of notes about when the sweet taste hit the front of the tongue, when notes of "bitter" or "sour" occurred and where. Steve's an engineer. In software tests, they are rigorous about testing, not only for function (the science) but also for usability (how users like the interface and the overall feel of the software). It's good to have an engineer involved in what seems like such a qualitative challenge but actually has scientific distinctions to master -- getting just the right taste!

We tinkered with the formula's flavoring and have new tasting samples. Tess jokes about being the one responsible for "baggies of finely ground powder."

Jack, the closest we have to a fussy teenager in taste preferences, said today, "I would actually drink this. Whatever you did, stick with it."

Maybe we're "there" and can move into final production. We'll get a few more reviews though. Fingers crossed!

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