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Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan Hardcover – February 26, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Similar to Chip and Dan Heath’s Made To Stick and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, this book will appeal to those looking to build their business platform.” — Library Journal

“Thoroughly researched and informative, the book’s clarity and simplicity of structure are quite refreshing. Gino possesses a wealth of well-constructed research and experience — both inside university labs and in the business world. This book is filled with carefully explained studies that have taken many years to collect and establish, as well as many insights from the business consulting world.” — Business World magazine

“For the general reader desiring to learn more about research studies on some human decision biases and their effects, this book can provide a valuable perspective.” — Choice Magazine

“… a powerful survey outlining the entire decision-making process, how it gets derailed, and how to get it back on track.” — Midwest Book Review

“Worth reading in every respect [Sidetracked] distinguishes itself from other practical books in its substance and the relevance of its examples.” — Personalwirtschaft (Germany)

“What separates Sidetracked…from some other books on decision making is an in-depth exploration of the “human” obstacles as opposed to the “organizational” obstacles that can inhibit sound decision-making processes.” — Business Standard

“If you have always yearned to feel more secure in your decision-making, or at the very least, understand better why even your best-laid plans often go awry, Sidetracked is a straight-forward examination of the forces that affect our decisions which can help raise your awareness and keep you from veering off course.” — 800 CEO READ

“… an excellent book.” — Biz India (bizindia.net)

ADVANCE PRAISE for Sidetracked:

Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Duke University; author of the New York Times bestsellers Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth about Dishonesty
We are often unaware of the many forces that affect our decisions—sometimes with devastating consequences. In Sidetracked, Francesca Gino identifies and illuminates many of these forces to help us all make decisions that we, our mothers, and our kids will be happier with.

Chip Heath, Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford Graduate School of Business; co-author, Made to Stick and Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard—
Francesca Gino is one of the smartest and most insightful decision researchers in the field. Her clever research informs every page of this book and it will change the way you think about decision making.

Robert I. Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford Engineering School; author, Good Boss, Bad Boss and The No Asshole Rule
Sidetracked is a scary, remarkably useful, and delightful romp. Scary because it shows how our imperfect brains can mess-up our decisions and our lives. Remarkably useful because it shows us how to thrive and triumph despite these imperfections. Delightful because Francesca Gino’s wisdom, quirky charm, and world-class smarts enrich every page.

John Engates, Chief Technology Officer, Rackspace—
Sidetracked is an indispensable guide for those interested in gaining insight into how we make decisions and the invisible forces that affect the process. Could our brains really be this susceptible to outside influence? The book reveals the truth—through example after example of carefully structured research—of just how easily influenced we are and concrete strategies for how to stay on track.

Daniel H. Pink, author, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and A Whole New Mind
Why do so many of our decisions go awry? Francesca Gino says the answer might be staring at us in the mirror. In Sidetracked, she reveals the many forces that distract our attention, distort our reasoning, and ultimately lead us astray. Reading this rich mix of experimental evidence and lively stories will help you rethink—and improve—how you make decisions in your life.

Susan Cain, author, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
This engaging, beautifully written, and thought-provoking book is a must read for anyone who wants a deep understanding of how decisions get so easily derailed, and advice on how to stick to well-thought out plans. A truly entertaining journey that will keep you turning pages through the very end.

About the Author

Francesca Gino is Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Her research focuses on judgment and decision making, ethics, productivity, and creativity. Her studies have been featured on CNN and NPR, as well as in leading print publications, including the Economist, the Financial Times, the New York Times, Newsweek, Scientific American, and Psychology Today. In 2009 the New York Times featured Gino’s research in the 9th Annual Year in Ideas. In 2015 she was chosen by Poets & Quants as one of the “Best 40 Under 40 Professors,” a ranking of the world’s top business school professors under the age of forty.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (February 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422142698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422142691
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Francesca is a curious behavioral scientist and a professor at Harvard Business School. She has earned major research awards from the National Science Foundation and the Academy of Management.

Her research has been featured in leading scholarly journals in psychology and management, and in various popular media outlets, including the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, the Boston Globe, the Economist, Huffington Post, Newsweek, and Scientific American. Francesca has appeared on CBS Radio and National Public Radio.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have been on a kick reading all sorts of books about motivation, drive, introverts, life strategies, etc. This book was next on my list to read. The title captured me because I am on that is easily distracted. I can walk downstairs to do one thing and find myself 5 minutes later upstairs doing something else. I was interested in what the book would have to offer.
The book focuses on nine principles for which the reader is to work with when trying to improve their focus.
1. Raise your awareness
2. Take your emotional temperature
3. Zoom out
4. Take the other party's point of view
5. Question your bonds
6. Check your reference points
7. Consider the source
8. Investigate and question the frame
9 Make your standards shine
When reading this most of these items seemed like common sense. However, what is so powerful about this book is that through all the research how easily we are affected. Most people know to raise their awareness for example. I am trying to get back into shape as I right this review. I know I have to watch what I eat, how I exercise, how much sleep, etc. We know this. Reading all the research that is shared by the author I was not aware at how much we can be sidetracked. Letting our emotions get in the way, viewing ourselves as more of an expert than others to list a few. Once again we might think this is a no brainer. Read the book. Read the research. Be amazed by how much we can impacted by the small things. Things that I never realized. Things are a chain reaction. One little thing can really shift the path we take as our days, weeks, years progress.

I really connected with a Chinese parable that was shard about a cracked pot.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a somewhat difficult review for me to write. In the end I am going to suggest that Sidetracked offers readers about a 3 on a 5 point scale of value, close but no cigar! In between I hope to provide some rationale for my opinion.

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by the author, Francesca Gino, and asked if I'd be willing to read her new book and write a review. Once I learned that her subject matter had to do with why we often get sidetracked in a decision executing process I was more than willing to accept the invitation. Much to my chagrin about 30 pages in I began to wonder about the manner in which the book had been written. The difficulty I was having was the feeling that I was reading a book that had been reverse engineered. Much like the chemistry experiments I conducted as a college freshman it seemed as though Professor Gino, who is a prolific researcher, especially with college students, had in mind a predetermined set of "tips" she was going to recommend for staying the course while executing decisions and force fit her research examples to support the pre-selected agenda. I remember running out of time while conducting those experiments, determining the ideal results from the back of the book and then plotting my results around the ideal curve. I got the assignments done but the learning was negligible. That's the feeling I came away with after reading `Sidetracked', I got done but the learning was negligible.

To be clear I have no issue with covering ground that has been covered by other authors, especially if there is a new twist added to the already existing body of knowledge. Unfortunately I did not feel I was being exposed to anything new by way of provocative perspectives being put forward.
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2 Comments 41 of 45 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
All too often we human beings are under the impression that we "have it all together" and are immune from forces that surreptitiously influence our choice of friends, our approach to the work that we do and even the products that we decide to purchase. Francesca Gino would beg to differ. Francesca is a psychologist and an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Over the years she and her colleagues at institutions of higher learning all across America have been conducting studies that clearly indicate that indeed there are subtle forces all around us that influence our behavior and ultimately cause us to unwittingly alter our plans. Francesca Gino presents these findings in her new book "Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan", You will be positively amazed at the results of some of these experiments. "Sidetracked" proves to be a real eye-opener.

If there is one overriding lesson to be gleaned from "Sidetracked" it is that just about all of us have an inaccurate view of ourselves. We tend to believe that we are smarter, more honest and more accomplished than the person sitting next to us. We often resist advice that could help us with the task at hand. This was clearly illustrated in a number of the studies conducted by the author over the years. We also believe that we are largely immune to outside forces that tend to color our decisions. Once again, the studies indicate that nothing could be further from the truth. Very subtle changes in the lighting in a room or the facial expression of a colleague at work can have a profound influence on an important decision that you are about to make. So too can the psychological closeness we have to another individual color our judgment.
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