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Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work [Kindle Edition]

Chip Heath , Dan Heath
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $26.00
Kindle Price: $12.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Chip and Dan Heath, the bestselling authors of Switch and Made to Stick, tackle one of the most critical topics in our work and personal lives: how to make better decisions.
 
   Research in psychology has revealed that our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities: We’re overconfident. We seek out information that supports us and downplay information that doesn’t. We get distracted by short-term emotions. When it comes to making choices, it seems, our brains are flawed instruments. Unfortunately, merely being aware of these shortcomings doesn’t fix the problem, any more than knowing that we are nearsighted helps us to see. The real question is: How can we do better?

   In Decisive, the Heaths, based on an exhaustive study of the decision-making literature, introduce a four-step process designed to counteract these biases. Written in an engaging and compulsively readable style, Decisive takes readers on an unforgettable journey, from a rock star’s ingenious decision-making trick to a CEO’s disastrous acquisition, to a single question that can often resolve thorny personal decisions.

   Along the way, we learn the answers to critical questions like these: How can we stop the cycle of agonizing over our decisions? How can we make group decisions without destructive politics? And how can we ensure that we don’t overlook precious opportunities to change our course? 

   Decisive is the Heath brothers’ most powerful—and important—book yet, offering fresh strategies and practical tools enabling us to make better choices. Because the right decision, at the right moment, can make all the difference.




From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Q&A with Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Chip and Dan Heath

Q. People often feel overwhelmed by “Decisions, decisions, decisions …” What makes us so indecisive?

A. If you’re feeling indecisive, chances are you don’t have the right options yet. In the book we describe four key “villains” of decision-making—common traps and biases that psychologists have identified. One of them is called “narrow framing,” meaning that we tend to get stuck in one way of thinking about a dilemma, or we ignore alternatives that are available to us. With a little effort, we can break out of a narrow frame and widen our options. For instance, one expert we interviewed had a great quote: “Any time in life you’re tempted to think, ‘Should I do this OR that?,’ instead, ask yourself, ‘Is there a way I can do this AND that?’ It’s surprisingly frequent that it’s feasible to do both things.”

Q. You show that the same decision process can be applied to many domains—health decisions, career decisions, business decisions—but doesn’t a decision “process” take way too much time?

A. Not necessarily. In this book, we’re not interested in complex decision models or elaborate decision trees. Often the best advice is the simplest, for instance, the suggestion to “sleep on it.” That’s great advice—it helps to quiet short-term emotion that can disrupt our choices. But it still takes 8 hours, and it doesn’t always resolve our dilemmas. Many other decision aids require only a simple shift in attention. Doctors leaning toward a diagnosis are taught to check themselves by asking, “What else could this be?” And colleagues making a difficult group decision can ask, “What would convince us, six months down the road, to change our minds about this?”

Q. Why did you call the book Decisive?

A. Being decisive isn’t about making the perfect decision every time. That isn’t possible. Rather, it’s about being confident that we’ve considered the right things, that we’ve used a smart process. The two of us have met a lot of people who tell us they agonize endlessly about their decisions. They get stuck in a cycle where they just keep spinning their wheels. To escape that cycle, we often need a shift in perspective. We describe a simple technique used by former Intel chief Andy Grove to resolve one of the toughest business decisions he ever faced, one that he and his colleagues had debated for over a year. And what was this profound technique? Nothing fancier than a single, provocative question! In the book we also highlight a second question, inspired by Grove’s technique, that can often resolve personal decisions quickly and easily.

Q. So how do I help my teenage son not to make a bad choice?

A. Unfortunately, no one has solved that problem. But we offer some simple tools that help people give better decision advice. (Often it’s easier to spot the flaws in other people’s thinking than in our own.) As an example, the phrase “whether or not” is often a warning flag that someone is trapped in a narrow frame. So if your son is debating “whether or not to go to the party tonight,” that’s your cue to widen the options he’s considering. (Horror movie? School basketball game? A head-start on trigonometry coursework?) For important decisions, even a little improvement can pay big dividends.

Review

“A leader's most important job is to make good decisions, which—minus perfect knowledge of the future—is tough to do consistently…The Heath brothers explain how to navigate the land mines laid by our irrational brains and improve our chances of good outcomes.” -Inc.

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
98 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Helpful Guide to Making Better Decisions March 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I highly recommend Decisive as a valuable aid to making more objective decisions. The Heath Brothers do a great job laying out a better and more memorable process for making decisions while illustrating the principles with a wide variety of examples. They begin by discussing how the normal decision making process proceeds in 4 steps, each of which has a "villain" that can negatively impact it. To quote from their introduction:
* You encounter a choice. But narrow framing makes you miss options.
* You analyze your options. But the confirmation bias leads you to gather self-serving information.
* You make a choice. But short-term emotion will often tempt you to make the wrong one.
* Then you live with it. But you'll often be overconfident about how the future will unfold

They spend the remainder of the book detailing a process to make better decisions - the WRAP process:
* Widen your options
* Reality Test Your Assumptions
* Attain Some Distance
* Prepare to Be Wrong

Each part of the process has several powerful ideas that are worth chewing on and implementing in the context of one's life. I have chosen a few of the ideas to give you a flavor of what is in store:

For widening your options, it is important to avoid a narrow frame. In order to make sure you challenge yourself to do this, they propose an idea called the Vanishing Options Test - what would you do if the current alternatives disappeared? Here is a key quote: "When people imagine that they cannot have an option, they are forced to move their mental spotlight elsewhere - really move it - often for the first time in a long while."
For Reality testing your assumptions.
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69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heath Brothers Hit Another Home Run March 27, 2013
Format:Hardcover
Here are 3 aspects I've appreciated about Decisive

Readability: No one writes non-fiction business books like these guys. In parts, Decisive is hard to put down. If you've read Made to Stick, you'll see the authors practicing what they preach by applying their SUCCES principles to the format of this book (if you haven't read it, then get it).

Gives You Language: Three of us in our department at work got a copy of Decisive and it comes up in conversation everyday. The Heath brothers have given us language like: "ooching", "setting tripwires", "widen our options,"narrow framing, and "What would have to be true for this to be the best option?" This is kind of language has the power to shape the culture of an organization.

Researched: I love the footnotes! Decisive is full of credible examples, and you can tell that the authors and their research team put in hundreds of hours exploring the topic of decision making. The result is a litany of real-life examples and the results of research studies put into layman's terms.
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84 of 93 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Chip and Dan Heath are known for writing insightful and approachable books like Switch. Their new book, Decisive does not follow this pattern. That simple statement required me to make a decision about this review. Writing a less than stellar review is often a challenge eliciting negative feedback when sharing reasons why something did not live up to your expectations or was worth the time to read.

We all make decisions and the top of making better decisions should have been a slam-dunk. While Decisive does deliver, particularly in the first few chapters, overall the messages in this book get lost. The book is too long, heavy and complex to be helpful, particularly covering a subject already treated by others.

The core messages of the book are sound and helpful. The book covers recognizes the challenges we face in making decisions:

> Forcing an either/or decision when its not needed
> Confirmation bias, when we seek and see only the data that supports our views
> Removing emotion from the decision making process
> Overconfidence in decision making that limits our ability to consider alternative

The answers to these challenges are a pop acronym WRAP that describes their four-step process to making better decisions.

> Widen your options
> Reality test your assumptions
> Attain distance before deciding
> Prepare to be wrong

These are commonsense and helpful ideas. They are the basis for an easy to understand, actionable set of tools, you are right. This is a case where the structure and prose gets in the way as the book uses 11 chapters to cover each letter of WRAP.
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69 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enrich your decision-making toolkit March 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover
The Heath brothers' previous books Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die and Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard are mainstays on my book shelf, and now "Decisive" joins them as a worthy companion. It is pretty shocking to think how little education most of us get on the art of how to make decisions. This book arrived at a very opportune time for me, as it immediately helped think about two major life decisions in new ways. First, my family was thinking of buying a new house, one of a family's biggest purchases. When my husband and I were touring the home, the real estate agent said, "make a list of pros and cons as you think it over." As she said that, I thought how inadequate that seemed as a decision-making strategy. Later that day, I cracked open "Decisive" and the Heaths immediately offered novel alternatives to the "pros and cons list." These solid, research-tested ideas laid out in their "WRAP process" helped me realize that the costs of moving, both financial and opportunity costs of time, were too great, and we should learn to love our current home. Second, I am thinking about applying for a new job in a new field, and the advice to "ooch," to take a small step and experiment and try out the job (by shadowing someone who is already in the role), was right on target. Take a series of small steps before you leap into a major life change.

As "Decisive" can help us make decisions more wisely and thoughtfully, it proves its worth over and over again. For me, this book was literally worth its weight in gold as it helped me save the expense of a major move!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A good resource where cognitive biases are briefly explained.
Published 10 days ago by Ali Caglar Akgungor
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices In Life and Work by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

"Decisive" is a very useful book on how to make better choices. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Book Shark
5.0 out of 5 stars Never Decide the Same Again
Such an incredible book. The break down of the decision-making process and the in-depth research that flies in the face of assumptions we make was eye-opening. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Kevin C. Procter
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed learning through the stories
very very relevant in many contexts. I enjoyed learning through the stories. I've begun to practice. Mahalo.
Published 24 days ago by Puanani Burgess
5.0 out of 5 stars like it
Very educational and informative book, used it for my e-MBA classes, has plenty great information, was able to get some new ideas and tips for management classes and was able to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by AndreyA
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and pointed
Excellent examples of what to do to improve your own decisiveness in clear understandable examples. Chapter end notes are strong examples of how to implement changes.
Published 1 month ago by Just Me
5.0 out of 5 stars Chip and Dan do it again
cut through the clutter - provide some simple workable guides to a process that leads to BETTER, though not always better liked results - too bad a certain large auto maker CHOSE... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pat Newcomb
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, as with all of Dan and Chip's books
Chip and Dan Heath are the best business writers on the market right now. Well researched and equally well written, Decisive continues their string of terrific books that every... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Connecticut Yankee
5.0 out of 5 stars Particularly Beneficial for My ENFJ Personality Type!
This book revealed my tendencies around decision making, and it suggested a process that seems practical, objective, and mindful. Read more
Published 1 month ago by William N. Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars New paradigm for reaching decisions
very thought provoking especially since the authors inform us that we all make the wrong decisions most of the time! Read more
Published 1 month ago by marre5
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