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A good deal of my professional life has been involved in project management, process improvement and systems engineering. Moreover, I've read (and reviewed) scores of books on decision making and decision analysis. I can honestly say that the author has managed to provide a workable and practical framework for decision making in this highly readable book. That he did so in less than 200 pages is remarkable.

What makes this book valuable is the depth and breadth of essential elements of decision making. Not only does the book begin with a discussion of psychological and semantic aspects (fear of negative outcomes, intentions and decisions), but also physiological aspects, such as how rigor in decision making can suffer from decreased glucose levels based on time of day and when food was last consumed. While the latter point may seem to be superfluous information, it is actually useful to factor into scheduling meetings or task forces that are charged with decision making.

Where this book shines is how the author clearly lays out a structured approach to decision making that can be tailored to the type and magnitude of the decision. It starts with crafting the decision statement - something that is not always given the attention that it deserves. If you learn nothing else from this book, this, alone, will dramatically improve your decision process. This is because most decisions in real life are made without fully understanding the context or being properly framed. I have personally been a member of process action teams that made a number of false starts (or plunged directly into solving the wrong problem) because the context and framing of decisions were haphazard or not even clearly understood. Had this book been available to all members many wasted hours would have been avoided.

Other discussions in the first half of the book are also about the foundation of the framework. These include an in-depth discussion of judgment and a framework for solutions. I advise paying close attention to these chapters because some of the discussion touches on legal and liability aspects. Again, I have worked with and for companies that were seemingly oblivious to how decisions and how they were arrived at could come back and haunt them during litigation. And in some cases they did. While the author does not play chicken little here I do appreciate this aspect of decision making being included.

My favorite part of the book is Part II, Deciding. I will admit that when I first opened this book I was skeptical that it would be all about qualitative methods. Not so. Don't get me wrong - in less than 200 pages there is not step-by-step discussion of probability models or other quantitative methods. There is, however, a discussion of effective techniques associated with process-based decision judgment models, with an emphasis on fact- and probability-based approaches. It is up to you, the reader, to dig deeper into these techniques. For example, a good book on the analytical hierarchy process - a powerful fact-based technique - can be found in Quality Function Deployment: How to Make QFD Work for You. A real Pandora's Box is the last chapter covering probability-based judgment and focusing on decisions in uncertainty. Decision tree analysis is one of the two tools discussed. That discussion is straightforward and is probably understood already by most readers. The Bayesian team technique is the Pandora's Box and at one end of a spectrum of quantitative tools.

Like one of the author's earlier books that I reviewed 12 years ago - Visualizing Project Management: A Model for Business and Technical Success (with CD-ROM) - this one takes a complex topic and breaks it down into a clear and straightforward framework that is well suited to the real world. I personally believe that this is a breakthrough work BECAUSE of how it can be adapted to any corporate standard for decision making. It is not so rigid that it is an organizational straightjacket, and it is not lightweight when it comes to making strategic decisions, and especially those that carry a risk of litigation.
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on October 7, 2012
I first read "Make Up Your Mind" two months ago. However, a recent experience in a decision-making training class offered by my employer motivated me to write this review. The training class covered a variety of different views on decision making from books such as "Six Thinking Hats," "Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes For an Answer" and "The Right Decision Every Time." Although each view had valuable information on the decision making process, none was as comprehensive as "Make Up Your Mind." In fact, after the class, I found myself revisiting "Make Up Your Mind" to help me determine how these other books fit into the comprehensive framework set forth by Mr. Mooz. And while being comprehensive, "Make Up Your Mind" is uncanny in making the process seem relatively simple. This is because the framework makes so much sense! The book breaks down the decision making process into logical segments covering the multiple factors of decision preparation and the actual deciding among alternatives. In particular, I liked the four factors comprising the decision type and the ten bases for making judgments--these will stay with me forever and influence every significant decision I make going forward. The book has definitely changed the way I think when presented with a decision. Mr. Mooz addresses the concept of being "decision fit," and that's exactly what you will be after reading his book.
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on February 8, 2012
I am a doctor. Doctor's think that most of their decisions are accurate, fact-based and main-stream. After reading this book, I realize how my decision making could be dramatically improved most of the time. This book is wonderful in that it holds our feet to the grindstone of truth and analytic thinking.

This book is very insightful in helping me evaluate both the known and the unknown issues affecting my daily personal and professional life decisions. It helps me analyze and deal with all of the critical information levels, some of which are obvious and most of which we tend to suppress, consider all the external influences that enter our decisions and recognize the science of decision-making at its best( and worst).

Hal teaches us how to process information and consider the multiple analytical issues that daily and hourly confront us. In doing so, we have learned to better operate our family life, our businesses, improve the relationships with our colleagues and, finally, if we are doctors, interact with our patients in a more helpful and compassionate way.

Yours truly,
Harvey Gilbert, MD
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on September 12, 2012
There are many books about decision-making. "Make up your Mind" is a clearly written book that should be on every decision-makers book shelf. Hal Mooz`s subtitle "A Decision-Making Guide to Thinking Clearly and Choosing Wisely" says it all. That focus on clarity of thought is why I recommend the book, I have seen too many decisions based on elegant and complex models that have yielded very little clarity of thought. One of the aspects of the book that I like is that Mooz spends much of the first half of the book considering the decisions about how to decide - what approach, how much rigor. Many authors jump right into a recommended decision process, or set of tools; and many decision makers and decision analysts start decisions with a set of preferred tools and techniques and then apply them to whatever decision they face. Mooz starts with framing the decision type. That is, not framing the specific problem - what's in and out of bounds, what are the givens - but considering what type of decision is being faced. To do this he considers aspects of the decision like how bad and how permanent might the outcome be, how uncertain is the information and the degree to which the decision is binding on other stakeholders. This frame then helps the decision maker select the decision approach, degree of rigor and analysis and the degree of communication and coordination with others. This provides a rational basis for selecting a decision approach, rather than a "one approach fits all" mindset. The book describes different decision judgment models ranging from minimal rigor (emotion based or faith based) to a high degree of rigor (fact and probability based). He spends the last third of the book discussing the more rigorous process-based decision models in more detail. His purpose is clearly to make decision makers aware of these techniques and when they are appropriate, rather than to train an analyst on how to carry out a decision analytic technique. This is where you would turn to many of the other excellent books on decision analysis and modeling; I want to be clear that this is not the book that will teach you how to do decision tree or Monte Carlo analysis. I recommend this book to anyone facing significant decisions, not just business decisions; but life decisions, personal decisions like buying a home, selecting a college, accepting or resigning from a job, moving to a new location. Those decisions require a clarity of thought from decision makers who are rarely taught how to make decisions. Hal Mooz's "Make up your Mind" is a great resource for learning how to think more clearly and make wiser choices in your own life.
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on November 24, 2012
It's one thing to talk about the importance of making good (great) decisions; it's another to actually show us how to do that. Hal Mooz does that in spades. "Make Up Your Mind" gives us every possible tool necessary to understand real decision making. I've just started applying what I've been learning and I've already seen benefits in my business decision making process.
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on September 1, 2013
This is a short book with the small pages, lots of white space, and larger font; it is probably an afternoon's read even for the slower reader. What information is provided in the book is good, but I think Mr. Mooz could have explored the factors that impact our decision making in greater detail. For example, while he mentions things like peer pressure, he doesn't explain how to deal with it.

He discusses properly framing a decision, but doesn't give any ideas for how that is to be done. The decision to buy a new car is used frequently since this is easy to understand and one that many people make. Mr. Mooz suggests reframing the decision to make it a transportation question, rather than simply a car purchase. That makes sense, but then he does not follow through with alternatives that go beyond simply buying a new car. He doesn't address the importance of expanding the number of good choices available before making a decision.

Rightly so, he suggests that teenagers should be taught good decision making skills. Teenagers often make poor decisions that impact the rest of their lives. Yet the decision models and examples he presents are not likely to be used by a teenager who is trying to decide whether to have unprotected sex or go to a wild party. I wish he would provide some tips that people can use on the fly to improve their decision making. Furthermore, since decision making is a skill that is learned with practice, he might offer some ways to practice developing those skills before we are placed in a critical life altering situation.

After the first 20 pages of the book, I was prepared to send a copy to a teenage niece. By the time I got done with the book, I came to the conclusion that it wouldn't change her decision making process, unless perhaps she had to make a major purchase. I got some good ideas from the book, but I feel like I ordered a meal in restaurant, only to find out that it was just an appetizer.
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on April 29, 2012
TRT: 6:06 - Judy Baker, Completely Creative, reviews "Make Up Your Mind" by Hal Mooz

Making good decisions is important in life and in business. I Have always found it hard to "pick one" out of several possible answers. Hal makes it clear that some decisions are temporary and others are permanent. Facts and emotions come into play in making decisions. Having the tools to evaluate an outcome using the models shown in this book has made it easier for me to make good choices with less stress.

Instead of worrying about whether or not I have all the facts or making an decision based on "feelings" alone, I learned that choices that have the potential to alter my life forever and require serious study. If the choices I make are have a less permanent impact, I may be safe relying on more on my feelings and past evidence to help me choose.

I loved the examples/stories he used to illustrate the way we "make up our mind" and when these methods were helpful or harmful. Hal has worked with NASA, and he includes an examination of how the Challenger Disaster could have been avoided had "facts" prevailed over emotion and how the stakeholders,astronauts in this case, were not involved in the final decision to launch, which ended their lives. Because of his work, NASA uses his methodology to be sure when the stakes are high, those who are most invested, are part of the decision-making process. This is a must read for anyone who has responsibility for making decisions.

I am using these models to help me make better decisions and to help my clients. [...]
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on March 11, 2012
So many times when we make decisions, especially the big ones, we often have that nagging feeling of " did I make the right decision?" In this book, Hal Mooz provides us with a systematic framework for sound decision making based upon decision type and bases for judgement. But don't let my words "systematic framework" scare you. This is no sterile academic text. Hal succeeds in conveying his years of experience in critcal decision making in this easy read,which for me was a three session read, and that with highlighter in hand. Mr. Mooz strikes the correct balance of head and heart in this book that first lays out the fundamentals of his decision making system, but allows for the human factor as he considers things like intuition and past experience when looking at the decision at hand in a wholistic context. Hal illustrates famous, and sometime infamous, results of some very high profile decisions and the flawed decision process that led to them. The book is applicable to both professional and personal decisions and as a father I especally appreciate Hal's heart for the life altering decisions many teenagers make at this critical point in their lives. Whether you are facing a critcal decision or simply a student of good decision making you will find this title indispensible.
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on February 13, 2012
We all make decisions every day, and probably are unaware that in making decisions of various types that we switch among a number of differing decision processes and that we compare alternatives in different ways. Examples might include basing the decision on our intuition, or on our religious upbringing, or on relying on factual data, or other. Hal has categorized and systematized these in a rigorous and objective fashion that allows one to think more clearly about the process. In doing so, it can help one to select a framework that is more suited to the decision to be made, and likely to result in a more informed and defensible result. This makes good reading for everyone, and especially for those who make decisions on subjects with high risk outcomes.
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on May 2, 2012
Make Up Your Mind examines step by step the process of making more reasoned, rational decisions. Hal Mooz has described in just the right amount of detail how those everyday as well as life changing decisions can be made with more confidence if we take some time to understand why one choice may be better than another. The decision making process is front and center in our family of two teenagers as they begin to explore college and career choices. Making rational, well thought out decisions, and understanding the role that peer or social pressure plays in the process has provided our family with many an opportunity for constructive dialogue. I enjoyed the book very much; technical, but very accessible.
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