Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $13.43 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work Hardcover – March 26, 2013
|New from||Used from|
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
More items to explore
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.
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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).
Here’s a summary of the book’s subject in two quotes from the introduction.
“Kahneman says that we are quick to jump to conclusions because we give too much weight to the information that’s right in front of us, while failing to consider the information that’s just offstage. He called this tendency “what you see is all there is.” In keeping with Kahneman’s visual metaphor, we’ll refer to this tendency as a “spotlight” effect. (Think of the way a spotlight in a theater directs our attention; what’s inside the spotlight is crisply illuminated.)”
“And that, in essence, is the core difficulty of decision making: What’s in the spotlight will rarely be everything we need to make a good decision, but we won’t always remember to shift the light. Sometimes, in fact, we’ll forget there’s a spotlight at all, dwelling so long in the tiny circle of light that we forget there’s a broader landscape beyond it.”
Decisive describes how you can make better decisions by following a simple process. The Heaths share research that shows that process is more important than analysis when reaching effective decisions. In fact, a good process can lead to better analysis.
They describe what they call the four villains of decision-making. The villains are: narrow framing, confirmation bias, short-term emotion, and overconfidence. They share a four-step process you can use to lessen the effect of the four villains.
I like the simple process represented with a few letters. The military does the best job I know of in teaching people how to decide. One key to their method is to define a simple process for analyzing an issue. The Army uses an analysis tool called METT-TC. That stands for: Mission, Enemy, Troops available, Terrain, Time, and Civilian concerns. The simple process helps a decision maker consider all the important factors.
The Heaths’ tool is a little different. They use the acronym WRAP. Each letter of the acronym represents a way to deal with one villain of decision-making. W is for “Widen your options.” R stands for “Reality-test your assumptions.” A represents “Attain distance before deciding.” And P is “Prepare to be wrong.”
Each of those elements of their process gets several chapters’ worth of coverage. The authors illustrate their points with relevant, well-told business stories, some of which you probably haven’t heard before. The Heaths also introduce several tools you can use to make the process work better. I found tools I was already familiar with, such as pre-mortem. There were tools I knew about but which had slipped away from the front of my memory. An example is Suzy Welch’s 10/10/10. And there were tools I never heard about such as book-ending.
In A Nutshell
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work is one of the best books I’ve read on decision-making. The Heaths created a simple process with an acronym to help you remember it. Then they present an array of tools to help you make the process work. If you want to improve your decision-making, or even if you think you don’t need to, this book is a must-read.
Since I'm not an executive, the business-related stuff was less helpful, and there are so many ideas in there that I'm not totally sure how best to apply them all, but it's an easy read with a lot of helpful ideas supposedly backed by research.
Top international reviews
I managed to read through this book in little over a day. It contained useful info with action summaries at the end of each chapter, so if you're in a rush you could whizz through the key points pretty quickly. Recommended.