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Harvard Business Review on Decision Making

10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1578515578
ISBN-10: 1578515572
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About the Author

Since 1984, Harvard Business School Press has been dedicated to publishing the most contemporary management thinking, written by authors and practitioners who are leading the way. Whether readers are seeking big-picture strategic thinking or tactical problem solving, advice in managing global corporations or for developing personal careers, HBS Press helps fuel the fire of innovative thought. HBS Press has earned a reputation as the springboard of thought for both established and emerging business leaders.


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Product Details

  • Series: Harvard Business Review Paperback Series
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Press (June 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578515572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578515578
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Harinath Thummalapalli on August 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
There are several books from the Harvard Business Review that follow this simple format - essays on critical topics by the leading minds in the field compiled into a short book of around 200 pages. One of these critical topics is Decision Making. That topic is the focus of this book.
There are hundreds of books on management, strategy, leadership, etc. but not many are purely dedicated to treating the subject of Decision Making from a theoretical and abstract perspective. This book contains 8 short essays presenting different theories by people by Peter Drucker.
The first chapter starts off with an impressive treatment of The Effective Decision. It is impressive because of the wisdom packed into these few pages and the aptness of the title. The author (Peter Drucker) dispels the myths about the most effective decision makers being the ones that can think fast and manipulate a large number of variables in their heads. Instead he explains that the best decision makers are the ones who focus on impact instead of technique. He then systematically explains a simple process to follow to achieve the same results as the highly successful executives.
The book then moves on to topics dealing with how to make trade-offs, humble decision making (which is nothing but accepting that your first impressions may be wrong and be open to changing the direction of your thoughts as more information becomes available), interpersonal barriers, hidden traps, when to trust your gut, and analyzing problems. The essay on interpersonal barriers was very familiar to me as I had experienced the situations described several times in my own career.
The book is simple - it has no pictures, just some tables once in a while and some blank paper at the end of the book to takes notes.
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Format: Paperback
Much of the contextual material in this volume is out-of-date, given the fact that the eight articles originally appeared in the Harvard Business Review years ago (1965-2001). However, I think the core concepts remain sound and provide a valuable frame-of-reference for understanding the advances in decision making that have occurred during the last five years. For example, Peter Drucker suggests a sequence of six steps: classify the problem, define it, identify possible answers, determine which is "right" rather than acceptable, build into the decision the action(s) necessary to implement it, and then test the decision's validity and effectiveness. Yes, these are obvious steps. However, but the number of well-publicized bad decisions that have been made in recent years (e.g. Adelphia Communications, Arthur Andersen, Enron, Kmart, and Tyco) suggests the implications and consequences when decision-makers ignore one or more of these steps.

No brief commentary such as this can do full justice to the rigor and substance of the eight articles. It remains for each reader to examine the list to identify which subjects are of greatest interest to her or him. My own opinion is that all of the articles are first-rate. One of this volume's greatest benefits is derived from the fact that a variety of perspectives are provided by a number of different authorities on the same general subject. In this instance, "advances [to date] in strategy"

Readers will especially appreciate the provision of an executive summary that precedes each article. They facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key points which - presumably - careful readers either underline or highlight. Also of interest is the "About the Contributors" section that includes suggestions of other sources to consult.
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37 of 47 people found the following review helpful By H. Arsham on October 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Being an effective manager requires being a good-decision maker too, having ability of using factual and quantitative information to analyze what is the most efficient decision to reach a well-defined objective. Making good decision by applied management science approach is the benefits that managers expect to learn combining with past experience to decide on what should be done. However, in the real-reality (as opposed to virtual reality, as a model), many decisions can be made under the highest-level conceptual understanding. In addition, a better understanding of decision making can be broken down into six sequential steps according to Drucker (pp. 2-19)

1. Classifying the problem in order to tell if it should be solved based on either principles or pragmatic concept. The problem can be categorized in three groups. The first group is the generic problems; for example, in a manufacturing organization, it may happen the situation like total amount of products decreasing. At this stage, the product control or engineering group will look at what is going on in a production line. To illustrate, the coupling in the pipe carrying steam or hot liquids, rather than the problem of production processing. This kind of problems frequently happens. The second group is a unique problem for the individual institution. The third group is a truly unique problem which happens out of exception. The truly unique events are rare and have to be treated individually. Unlike truly unique events, the other two groups require a generic solution. They require a rule, a policy, or a principle. Once the right principle has been developed, all manifestations of the same generic situation can be handled pragmatically by adjusting the rules to each specific case.

2. Defining the problem.
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