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Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work Hardcover – March 26, 2013
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Chip and Dan Heath the bestselling authors of Switch and Made to Stick tackle one of the most critical topics in our work and personal lives how to make better decisions Research in psychology has revealed that our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities Were overconfident We seek out information that supports us and downplay information that doesnt We get distracted by short-term emotions When it comes to making choices it seems our brains are flawed instruments Unfortunately merely being aware of these shortcomings doesnt fix the problem any more than knowing that we are nearsighted helps us to see The real question is How can we do better In Decisive the Heaths based on an exhaustive study of the decision-making literature introduce a four-step process designed to counteract these biases Written in an engaging and compulsively readable style Decisive takes readers on an unforgettable journey from a rock stars ingenious decision-making trick to a CEOs disastrous acquisition to a single question that can often resolve thorny personal decisions Along the way we learn the answers to critical questions like these How can we stop the cycle of agonizing over our decisions How can we make group decisions without destructive politics And how can we ensure that we dont overlook precious opportunities to change our course Decisive is the Heath brothers most powerful-and important-book yet offering fresh strategies and practical tools enabling us to make better choices Because the right decision at the right moment can make all the difference
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Science has shown that the formulas our brains use to decide simplify things, but the mental shortcuts often are not in our best interests. Cognizant of this, the questions then becomes: How do we overcome these innate predilections and decide better? Decisive illustrates four specific strategies.
The four strategies are W.R.A.P.: Widen Your Options, Reality Test Your Assumptions, Attain Distance Before Deciding and Prepare to Be Wrong. The book proceeds linearly through W.R.A.P. and each section goes into detail about how a specific strategy can help you to decide better. Furthermore, within each section, sub-strategies are detailed that explain the critical building blocks you will need when deciding.
Also located throughout Decisive are ‘clinics’ that pose a question and invite you to apply what you’ve learned to a case study. For those who just want to get straight to the point, each chapter ends with a one-page summary of bullet points.
The only negative comment I have about this book is that it is told through many, many stories. Decisive is a non-fiction book but at times it feels like you are reading a fiction novel about a series of characters who had to navigate through tough scenarios. It’s understandable why the authors did this (because stories are memorable, impart knowledge and inspire to act), but it felt as if they went overboard at times. The hardcover is 300 pages and I would presume over 100 of those pages consist of the stories alone.
Decisive is the third book (Switch and Made to Stick) from Chip and Dan Heath that I have read and the sole reason why I bought Decisive is because of the others. All three books are insightful, practical, and have significant overlap, so whether you are a business leader, a chef, a or a Sunday school teacher, there will be something for you to learn and apply.
Essentially, reading all three will show you how to develop a lasting idea that people will believe in, care for, and take action on (Made to Stick); how to materialize that idea into transformative change (Switch); and how to navigate along the path you have chosen in your personal life and job (Decisive).
As a collector of resources that become permanent parts of a practical tool kit I think Decisive is a worthy addition. Let the buyer beware though, Decisive is a look at a much more complex process than either Made to Stick or Switch, at least in my view.
I'd recommend that interested buyers read the reviews here, especially the one and three star entries. I suppose we all knew that there would be readers who couldn't wait to provide a five star review; that would have been me until I got about a third of the way in and wasn't having as much fun as I did with the first two books. Then I realized that what the Heath's were guiding me towards was a rigorous process of subjecting my decisions to objective reviews. Yuck! Who wants to do that? If it sounds like I am saying that Decisive may be a bitter pill for some to swallow you'd be correct. It really does reveal that lack of rigor and critical thinking that many of us employ in our own personal quest to simply do what we want to do.
Decisive is not as entertaining as Made to Stick or Switch but it takes us into an area of life where the consequences are much weightier and maybe just harder to look at. I'd recommend it to students as a general reference source or especially to anyone considering making a decision that has considerable consequences to account for.
I do think that a better job could have been done in developing their 4 reasons for bad decisions. While I think they are accurate there was little effort in the book to explain these reasons other then just stating them.
Originally I bought this book because I read and excellent article on Business Insider which was taken from the principles presented in book. After reading the book I think I found I learned more from the article than the book.