- Series: Harvard Business Review Paperback Series
- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Harvard Business Press (June 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1578515572
- ISBN-13: 978-1578515578
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,183,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Harvard Business Review on Decision Making
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No brief commentary such as this can do full justice to the rigor and substance of the eight articles. It remains for each reader to examine the list to identify which subjects are of greatest interest to her or him. My own opinion is that all of the articles are first-rate. One of this volume's greatest benefits is derived from the fact that a variety of perspectives are provided by a number of different authorities on the same general subject. In this instance, "advances [to date] in strategy"
Readers will especially appreciate the provision of an executive summary that precedes each article. They facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key points which - presumably - careful readers either underline or highlight. Also of interest is the "About the Contributors" section that includes suggestions of other sources to consult. Here are questions that suggest key issues to which the authors of these articles respond:
How to make and then measure an "effective" decision? (Peter Drucker)
Comment: Effective executives do not make a great many decisions. They concentrate on what is most important.
What is a rational method for making trade-offs? (John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, and Howard Raiffa)
Comment: Making wise trade-offs is one of the most important and difficult challenges in decision making. Needless to say, the more alternatives you are considering and the more objectives you're pursuing, the more trade-offs you'll need to make.
Why is humility essential to effective decision-making? (Amitai Etzioni)
Comment: Only fools make rigid decisions and decisions with no sense of overarching purpose, whereas the most able executives practice more humble decision making that offers the benefits of flexibility, caution, and the capacity to proceed with partial knowledge.
What are the most common interpersonal barriers to decision making and how to overcome them? (Chris Argyris)
Comment: One of the most common observations in company studies is that executives lack awareness of their own behavioral patterns as well as the negative impact of their behavior on others.
How to analyze the nature and extent of the given problem? (Perrin Stryker)
Comment: Even veteran managers are likely to be very unsystematic when dealing with problems and decisions, and their hit-or-miss methods often produce bad decisions based on erroneous conclusions.
What are the hidden traps in decision making? (John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, and Howard Raiffa)
Comment: Bad decisions can often be traced back to the way the decisions were made - the alternatives that were not clearly defined, the right information was not collected, and the costs and benefits were not accurately weighed.
When to "trust your gut"? (Alden M. Hayshi)
Comment: Our emotions and feelings might not only be important in our intuitive ability to make good decisions but may actually be essential because they can help us to filter various options quickly.
Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out the recently published Harvard Business Review on Making Smarter Decisions as well as other titles in the Harvard Business Review Paperback Series such as those on Becoming a High-Performance Manager, Change, Corporate Strategy, Decision Making, Effective Communication, the Innovative Enterprise, Leadership, Leadership at the Top, and Measuring Corporate Performance.
There are hundreds of books on management, strategy, leadership, etc. but not many are purely dedicated to treating the subject of Decision Making from a theoretical and abstract perspective. This book contains 8 short essays presenting different theories by people by Peter Drucker.
The first chapter starts off with an impressive treatment of The Effective Decision. It is impressive because of the wisdom packed into these few pages and the aptness of the title. The author (Peter Drucker) dispels the myths about the most effective decision makers being the ones that can think fast and manipulate a large number of variables in their heads. Instead he explains that the best decision makers are the ones who focus on impact instead of technique. He then systematically explains a simple process to follow to achieve the same results as the highly successful executives.
The book then moves on to topics dealing with how to make trade-offs, humble decision making (which is nothing but accepting that your first impressions may be wrong and be open to changing the direction of your thoughts as more information becomes available), interpersonal barriers, hidden traps, when to trust your gut, and analyzing problems. The essay on interpersonal barriers was very familiar to me as I had experienced the situations described several times in my own career.
The book is simple - it has no pictures, just some tables once in a while and some blank paper at the end of the book to takes notes. The size is small like a novel but very potent! When I first saw this book at a bookstore, I didn't think much of it. But I picked it up because of the Harvard Business Review name on the front cover. I couldn't put it down once I started reading the first chapter and immediately purchased a few books in this series.
These books and especially this one can be described in only one word - potent. They are like text books or Ph.D papers except they are very practical. These are some of my favorite management/business books but they are difficult to digest. Since they are abstract in nature, one has to read them very slowly and read them with total concentration. The authors don't spend time painting a picture in detail and trying to get you excited. They get straight to the point and finish it in less than 20 pages. If you read these books like you would read other books, you are likely to miss the point.
This book in particular is very unique as there aren't that many books dedicated to just Decision Making. Enjoy learning from the masters! Good luck!