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Making Great Decisions in Business and Life Hardcover – November 5, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


This brilliantly written book is a stimulating, fun read filled with great stories and examples. It has practical applications for business people, and yet is written for everyone. If my predecessors at the companies I turned around had read and understood this book, their companies wouldn t have needed me. I wish I had had this book when I taught decision analysis at Harvard. It would make a great supplementary text for virtually any course I teach. It is, simply, a great book. --John O. Whitney, Columbia Business School

Making Great Decisions flows like butter. It teaches you how to think like an economist. The results may surprise or even jolt you, as you discover all the mistakes you've been making and how to correct them. --Barry Nalebuff, Yale School of Management

This is a book that is the best of both worlds; it's full of practical advice and it's interesting. Honestly, I carried this book around with me and read it at every spare moment. --Jack Covert, 800-CEO-READ

About the Author

David R. Henderson is a professor of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and a research fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He was a senior economist with President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers. Henderson edited the first, and still the only, reader-friendly economics encyclopedia, The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics. He is the author of The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey. Charles L. Hooper is president and co-founder of Objective Insights, a consulting company that provides financial and marketing analysis for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He is a visiting fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Park Press; 1st edition (November 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976854104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976854104
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #894,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Dwight R. Lee on December 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Far too many people see economics as difficult, boring, and totally irrelevant to their daily lives. Henderson and Hooper demonstrate in clear and compelling language that economics is really a straightforward and exciting way to make your life more productive and enjoyable. With a large number of short, interesting and largely diagram-free examples, the authors do exactly what the title of their book promises. They show the reader how to make great decisions in their businesses and their lives. Mentioning two of their many topics, the book emphasizes how easy it is to let your fantasies obscure the realities you face and lead you into harmful decisions with a number of useful examples. There is a wonderful discussion on the importance of considering cost and being careful to distinguish between real cost and what is easily thought of as cost, but isn't.

I will be teaching a one-half semester capstone MBA course on economics in the second half of the spring semester, and this book will be the central reading. I cannot think of a better book to bring home the message I think is crucial for MBA students to understand--that the insights of economics can improve their business skills and make them more effective in all walks of their lives. But you don't need to be an MBA student to benefit from this book. Just someone who enjoys a well-written and interesting book and wants to make better decisions.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By political idiot on January 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good book, easy to read, and more importantly absent business jargon; but there won't be any epiphanies for anyone. The authors do offer some clarity, personal insight, and reinforce traditional methodology to help you make better, more effective, risk tolerant decisions. Essentially they successfully eliminate the fluff found in most textbooks and present the meat in an understandable and practical manner. Utilizing his background in economics, David Henderson provides a nice section on utilizing the margin for decision-making, which I have found is always a most useful skill to have. Other factors I think people tend to get emotional about with negative results are sunk costs and time valuation. There is useful information and lots of examples, anecdotes, and techniques included. At no time do the authors leave you hanging on an abstract concept. Examples and calculations are provided to drive home the idea. My only criticism is that since the book as co-written by two authors they feel some need to frequently tell the reader, with parenthetical initials, who is offering the example or anecdote. It gets a bit annoying, but that may be just my own personal problem. Nonetheless, this is a good, solid book with informative material that will provide a manager at any level, company owner, or master of their domicile good focus for improved decision-making skills.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Maxim on February 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When was the last time you saw a personal advice book that, instead of using some type of trendy "pop-psychology" approach, applied economic theory? This is what makes David Henderson and Charles Hooper's book Making Great Decisions so unique. At the same time, the authors make the application of economics seem simple. Easily understandable language replaces economic jargon, and the point of a paragraph is never ambiguous.

The book is packed with interesting, real-life examples and conversations. It overflows with personal stories, each to make a point or to illustrate a particular concept.

Most of the economic principles that are applied come right out of Econ 101. For example, the authors advise readers to ignore "sunk costs" (expenses that have already been made, in time or money) when making decisions. In other words, your initial investment, whether in the form of yearlong training to climb Mt. Everest or the establishment of a coin shop, should not be considered when deciding whether to pursue the venture further.

The authors say that one common error made by companies and individuals is assigning the wrong priorities to projects. They point to a company that spent far more money and time deciding how to make company printers more alike than it did determining whether to license a product worth $100 million a year. They should have realized the massive difference in importance between the two problems and divided resources accordingly.

The authors give personal advice throughout the book. "Think on the margin," they say. Henderson gives as an example his procrastination in graduate school, when he needed to complete his dissertation.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By James A. Hatherley on January 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I became aware of "Making Great Decisions in Business And Life" by reading a very promising review in the Wall Street Journal.

There is a lot to like in this book, and I found myself making numerous notes in the margins as I read along. Other readers have suggested that a lot of the material amounted to common sense, and I agree. However, if common sense is so common, why is it so often cryptically referred to as common sense?

The point is that some of the chapters created immediate value for me. Chapters entitled, "Ask What Changed" to understand the real story behind the story involving change, and "Knowing What You Want Before You Choose" and "Realize What's Important," were very well written and presented an opportunity for personal reflection - an important reason for reading this type of book.

After I read, "Create Better Alternatives" I used the concept in my business the following day. You have to like that.

In other words, there is a lot from which most people can quickly benefit.

However, this is a review for my fellow Amazon readers, and it is fair to say that you cannot read a book without comparing it to similar books - especially those previously posted for review. Otherwise, how can these reviews be of any assistance to anyone but the reviewer?

"Making Great Decisions ..." is a detailed and interesting. There are numerous examples cited, many of them arising from the biotech/pharmaceutical industries. Some of the stories are very strong, others pretty weak. I think that the reason for the latter is that this book takes too long in the telling. The beginning is much stronger than the ending because the stories are crisper/more relevant/better written.
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