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Making Great Decisions in Business and Life Hardcover – November 5, 2005
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This brilliantly written book is a stimulating, fun read filled with great stories and examples. It has practical applications for business people, and yet is written for everyone. If my predecessors at the companies I turned around had read and understood this book, their companies wouldn t have needed me. I wish I had had this book when I taught decision analysis at Harvard. It would make a great supplementary text for virtually any course I teach. It is, simply, a great book. --John O. Whitney, Columbia Business School
Making Great Decisions flows like butter. It teaches you how to think like an economist. The results may surprise or even jolt you, as you discover all the mistakes you've been making and how to correct them. --Barry Nalebuff, Yale School of Management
This is a book that is the best of both worlds; it's full of practical advice and it's interesting. Honestly, I carried this book around with me and read it at every spare moment. --Jack Covert, 800-CEO-READ
About the Author
David R. Henderson is a professor of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and a research fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He was a senior economist with President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers. Henderson edited the first, and still the only, reader-friendly economics encyclopedia, The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics. He is the author of The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey. Charles L. Hooper is president and co-founder of Objective Insights, a consulting company that provides financial and marketing analysis for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He is a visiting fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
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There is a lot to like in this book, and I found myself making numerous notes in the margins as I read along. Other readers have suggested that a lot of the material amounted to common sense, and I agree. However, if common sense is so common, why is it so often cryptically referred to as common sense?
The point is that some of the chapters created immediate value for me. Chapters entitled, "Ask What Changed" to understand the real story behind the story involving change, and "Knowing What You Want Before You Choose" and "Realize What's Important," were very well written and presented an opportunity for personal reflection - an important reason for reading this type of book.
After I read, "Create Better Alternatives" I used the concept in my business the following day. You have to like that.
In other words, there is a lot from which most people can quickly benefit.
However, this is a review for my fellow Amazon readers, and it is fair to say that you cannot read a book without comparing it to similar books - especially those previously posted for review. Otherwise, how can these reviews be of any assistance to anyone but the reviewer?
"Making Great Decisions ..." is a detailed and interesting. There are numerous examples cited, many of them arising from the biotech/pharmaceutical industries. Some of the stories are very strong, others pretty weak. I think that the reason for the latter is that this book takes too long in the telling. The beginning is much stronger than the ending because the stories are crisper/more relevant/better written.
Somewhere in here the authors probably should have exercised their own thinking about how much time a reader should be devoting to their book. By their formula, reading the entire book was probably a questionable decision in terms of time management (a topic of fomulaic discussion).
Curiously, "Moneyball" is cited by the authors as an excellent book on blending data with economics into actual practice. I agree. And, "Moneyball" is only 35% of the price of "Making Great Decisions." As you will learn from reading "Making Great Decisions", receiving this information will help you to prioritize your purchasing decisions and reading schedule.
The bottom line for me is that this is a good book, and sometimes a very good book, but too seldom one completely worthy of its title.
One of the disadvantages of teaching economics is an all-too-frequent conversation when meeting people. When someone finds out what I do, they say "That was the hardest course that I took in college." Unfortunately, I also know what's implied. They learned little and probably remember virtually nothing.
And that's a shame. Economics is not just about graphs, obscure equations and abstract notions.
Economics is a useful way of thinking about the world. In this book, you'll see that basic economic notions can be used to help you make decisions in your everyday life. The usefulness is illustrated with many stories, all informative and some amusing.
The authors go further than basic economics, including decision science and thoughtful common sense. For example, you'll find out how David Henderson resolved a problem with hard pillows at an otherwise fine hotel by buying better pillows, and why this made more sense than going to a better hotel. This is the start of a chapter on creating better alternatives, in which the authors make the point that evaluating alternatives requires thought and sometimes imagination.
It's a fun read, besides which it's well written and clear. You're unlikely to be sorry that you read it.
What I especially liked were the explanations of sunk costs and how to value your time. Most of the material in this book I'll be using as a reference - it is not the kind of advice that can be absorbed in one reading.
The only annoyance that I encountered was the authors' use of abbreviations of their names when they were giving real-life examples of situations. It got tedious to be constantly told, in parenthesis, that "I (CLH) did this" and "I (DRH) did that". It was distracting and, in my opinion, unnecessary. I really didn't care which author had the experience - I was more interested in what I was supposed to be learning.
If you'd like a simpler book on decision making I'd recommend "Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions".
Why study economic theory? Simple! Just about every decision that you make carries an economic or non-economic cost and accompanying benefit. If the benefits outweigh the costs, you've made the right decision. This book gives you the proper tools to ask the right questions and discover the correct answers in situations both financial and personal. It is easy to read and very interesting...packed with real world stories and examples. It's an excellent use of your limited resources!
Most recent customer reviews
The only point it makes that is of great value
is the following: decide on what is truly important...Read more