Top positive review
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Probably the most effective book an analyst can own
on September 16, 2001
Regardless of whether you specialize in a particular business skill, work in IT, are a consultant, or someone who wants to make a critical personal decision, this book will give you the necessary tools for decision making.
It has three parts: (1) 50 pages on the basics of problem solving and decision making, (2) a collection of the fourteen tools that will make you an effective problem solver or decision maker, and (3) Next steps for refining your problem solving.
Part 1 prepares you by getting you to think about thinking and providing insights to problem solving - sort of like a warm up before you engage in strenuous exercise. This is appropriate because as you work through the exercises associated with each tool you will be getting a strenuous mental workout - the author makes you think hard throughout the book.
The tools given in this book are the foundation of any problem solving process. Although the author presents them in their most basic form, there are endless variations of them (and you will recognize many as you read through this book). Each tool is presented by giving some background, situations in which the particular tool is most effective, step-by-step procedures for using the tool and exercises. Answers to each exercise, including worked examples, are provided in the back of the book. The tools themselves are: (1) Problem restatement, (2) PROs-CONs-FIXes, (3) Divergent Thinking, (4) Sorting, Chronologies and Timelines, (5) Causal Flow Diagramming, (6) Matrices, (7) Decision/Event Trees, (8) Weighted Ranking, (9) Hypothesis Testing, (10) Devil's Advocacy, (11) Probability Tree, (12) Utility Tree, (13) Utility Matrix and (14) Advanced Utility Analysis.
I cannot point to any one thing I like more than another in this excellent book. I've used virtually every tool listed at one time or another before reading this book. However, after going through the [not-so-easy] exercises provided I can assure you that the next time I have occasion to use any of the 14 tools I will do so with a great deal more skill and efficiency. Since I'm an IT consultant who is constantly involved in analysis and problem solving I keep this book nearby as a ready reference. It has proven it's value time after time and earns it my highest recommendation.