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Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work Hardcover – March 26, 2013
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Q&A with Chip Heath & Dan Heath
Q. People often feel overwhelmed by “Decisions, decisions, decisions …” What makes us so indecisive?
A. If you’re feeling indecisive, chances are you don’t have the right options yet. In the book we describe four key “villains” of decision-making—common traps and biases that psychologists have identified. One of them is called “narrow framing,” meaning that we tend to get stuck in one way of thinking about a dilemma, or we ignore alternatives that are available to us. With a little effort, we can break out of a narrow frame and widen our options. For instance, one expert we interviewed had a great quote: “Any time in life you’re tempted to think, ‘Should I do this OR that?,’ instead, ask yourself, ‘Is there a way I can do this AND that?’ It’s surprisingly frequent that it’s feasible to do both things.”
Q. You show that the same decision process can be applied to many domains—health decisions, career decisions, business decisions—but doesn’t a decision “process” take way too much time?
A. Not necessarily. In this book, we’re not interested in complex decision models or elaborate decision trees. Often the best advice is the simplest, for instance, the suggestion to “sleep on it.” That’s great advice—it helps to quiet short-term emotion that can disrupt our choices. But it still takes 8 hours, and it doesn’t always resolve our dilemmas. Many other decision aids require only a simple shift in attention. Doctors leaning toward a diagnosis are taught to check themselves by asking, “What else could this be?” And colleagues making a difficult group decision can ask, “What would convince us, six months down the road, to change our minds about this?”
Q. Why did you call the book Decisive?
A. Being decisive isn’t about making the perfect decision every time. That isn’t possible. Rather, it’s about being confident that we’ve considered the right things, that we’ve used a smart process. The two of us have met a lot of people who tell us they agonize endlessly about their decisions. They get stuck in a cycle where they just keep spinning their wheels. To escape that cycle, we often need a shift in perspective. We describe a simple technique used by former Intel chief Andy Grove to resolve one of the toughest business decisions he ever faced, one that he and his colleagues had debated for over a year. And what was this profound technique? Nothing fancier than a single, provocative question! In the book we also highlight a second question, inspired by Grove’s technique, that can often resolve personal decisions quickly and easily.
Q. So how do I help my teenage son not to make a bad choice?
A. Unfortunately, no one has solved that problem. But we offer some simple tools that help people give better decision advice. (Often it’s easier to spot the flaws in other people’s thinking than in our own.) As an example, the phrase “whether or not” is often a warning flag that someone is trapped in a narrow frame. So if your son is debating “whether or not to go to the party tonight,” that’s your cue to widen the options he’s considering. (Horror movie? School basketball game? A head-start on trigonometry coursework?) For important decisions, even a little improvement can pay big dividends.
“A leader's most important job is to make good decisions, which—minus perfect knowledge of the future—is tough to do consistently…The Heath brothers explain how to navigate the land mines laid by our irrational brains and improve our chances of good outcomes.” -Inc.
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Asking the right questions and looking at a broad array of solutions where everyone wins is the heart of the WRAP model that Chip and Dan Heath have developed to help you formulate and make smart decisions. The WRAP model is as follows:
W: widen your options
R: reality check your options
A: attain distance before deciding
P: prepare to be wrong
In explaining the model, Chip and Dan Heath did not stray from their proven model of laying out a principle and following it with real life stories that illustrate those principles. Some stories end in success, some end in failure, but they all tie back neatly to the central point they are trying to communicate.
The ending of the book is especially helpful. The “clinic” session presents 3 real cases where the reader can apply the WRAP model and come up with solutions. The scenarios are challenging and the authors don’t give you a right or wrong answer. They are there to simply make you think.
Decisive is a great read for a critical doer. Decisions are the seeds of action, and this book gives you an effective method of developing options and preparing yourself mentally to make the choice and deal with the results. Read the book and apply the lessons to your professional and personal lives to achieve fulfillment. To learn more, follow my blog at criticaldoer.com
Every day -- we have to make decisions. But how do we learn to make more of the RIGHT ones than bad ones? In short, I call it D3: Do it. Delegate it or Drop it. Procrastination or putting things off is for losers. Not for people on the road to success.
I enjoy reading books on learning predictive behavior of people, circumstances and what the outcome might be if I do this or that.
Predictive behavior, the ability to see two products ahead... whatever you call it -- the river of life is a lot smoother and safer if you learn to make better decisions upstream and before you hear the sound of the roaring rapids, forcing you to scramble and peddle like Hell for the shore.
This book is a light, one-weekend to read that can help you understand how to make better decisions that turn out more in your favor and help you get what you want out of life and business.
I gave four stars because it could have benefitted from being more concise. Stories are a great way to learn and illustrate a point but I felt there were one too many. I started to lose sight of the lesson more than once.
Overall, a very valuable book to add to any collection.
I think that women when they hit age 40 or so, begin to look for reasons "why" our views change and how to make those appropriate changes- this book was very helpful in that way. Women usually have always shook our head YES, when we mean maybe or even no! Its time to say no when you mean no...
The most helpful feature of the book that made me give all five stars - If you are a speed-reader, this book has a "chapter in one page" feature that summarizes all the important points from each chapter.
One can of course read at leisure the whole book with each example that supports the authors as they make their case.
But the summarized chapters feature is very much appreciated - Great job with this one!
All-in-all if you have a major decision to make, be sure to read this book.