Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Book review of Decisive

by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Review by Peter Narloch

Decisive is a new book in our bookstore from the Heath brothers who wrote Made to Stick and Switch.  This book focuses on the topic of how we make decisions in life.  They open the discussion up with building a case that we humans do not have a good track record for making good decisions.  They cite many facts to build their case such as 83% of all mergers in business fail to give value to stockholders and the number of people who change careers after only beginning. 

The Heaths contend that there are four villains preventing us from making good decisions:
1. We narrow our framing which causes us to miss options
2. Our own confirmation bias taints analysis with self serving data
3. Short term emotions lead us astray
4. Over confidence about future outcomes cloud the picture 

The authors build a believable case supporting the existence of this villains.  I was able to relate to many of the example stories that they used as examples.  I feel that this could be a good text for high school seniors to read through and chew on.  Who do I date? What college to attend? Which job to take? Should we get married?  are just a sampling of decisions that facing every young adult today.

Decisive presents a process which the authors feel can significantly increase our chances of making good decisions.  They use the acrostic WRAP to describe the decision process that should be used.

Widen your options goes after the first villain which focuses on getting out of the either-or trap in decisions. We are encouraged to use multi-track thinking and to consider this AND that rather than this OR that logic to combat the first villain.

Reality test your assumptions addresses leaning towards our own biases in decisions.  Ooching is encouraged which is basically the act of trying something out before deciding.

Attain distance before deciding is a technique to build a barrier from the effects of our short term emotions.  Heaths write about loss aversion and using a 10-10-10 method to help give us fresh perspective.

Prepare to be wrong is the last decision tool which is used to address the fourth villain of over confidence. Using bookend results, setting trip wires and trusting the process are techniques in this final tool bag.

Each chapter of the book has an excellent summary page which can be used to quickly review the concepts which are discussed in the chapter.  It is safe to say that everyone would glean some morsel from Decisive.  If not directly for yourself, then for the many people in our lives who are struggling to make good decisions.

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