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Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan Hardcover – February 26, 2013
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Thoroughly researched and informative, the book’s clarity and simplicity of structure are quite refreshing. Gino possesses a wealth of well-constructed research and experience both inside university labs and in the business world. This book is filled with carefully explained studies that have taken many years to collect and establish, as well as many insights from the business consulting world.” Business World magazine
For the general reader desiring to learn more about research studies on some human decision biases and their effects, this book can provide a valuable perspective.” Choice Magazine
a powerful survey outlining the entire decision-making process, how it gets derailed, and how to get it back on track.” Midwest Book Review
Worth reading in every respect [Sidetracked] distinguishes itself from other practical books in its substance and the relevance of its examples.” Personalwirtschaft (Germany)
What separates Sidetracked from some other books on decision making is an in-depth exploration of the human” obstacles as opposed to the organizational” obstacles that can inhibit sound decision-making processes.” Business Standard
If you have always yearned to feel more secure in your decision-making, or at the very least, understand better why even your best-laid plans often go awry, Sidetracked is a straight-forward examination of the forces that affect our decisions which can help raise your awareness and keep you from veering off course.” 800 CEO READ
an excellent book.” Biz India (bizindia.net)
ADVANCE PRAISE for Sidetracked:
Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Duke University; author of the New York Times bestsellers Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth about Dishonesty
We are often unaware of the many forces that affect our decisionssometimes with devastating consequences. In Sidetracked, Francesca Gino identifies and illuminates many of these forces to help us all make decisions that we, our mothers, and our kids will be happier with.
Chip Heath, Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford Graduate School of Business; co-author, Made to Stick and Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
Francesca Gino is one of the smartest and most insightful decision researchers in the field. Her clever research informs every page of this book and it will change the way you think about decision making.
Robert I. Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford Engineering School; author, Good Boss, Bad Boss and The No Asshole Rule
Sidetracked is a scary, remarkably useful, and delightful romp. Scary because it shows how our imperfect brains can mess-up our decisions and our lives. Remarkably useful because it shows us how to thrive and triumph despite these imperfections. Delightful because Francesca Gino’s wisdom, quirky charm, and world-class smarts enrich every page.
John Engates, Chief Technology Officer, Rackspace
Sidetracked is an indispensable guide for those interested in gaining insight into how we make decisions and the invisible forces that affect the process. Could our brains really be this susceptible to outside influence? The book reveals the truththrough example after example of carefully structured researchof just how easily influenced we are and concrete strategies for how to stay on track.
Daniel H. Pink, author, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and A Whole New Mind
Why do so many of our decisions go awry? Francesca Gino says the answer might be staring at us in the mirror. In Sidetracked, she reveals the many forces that distract our attention, distort our reasoning, and ultimately lead us astray. Reading this rich mix of experimental evidence and lively stories will help you rethinkand improvehow you make decisions in your life.
Susan Cain, author, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
This engaging, beautifully written, and thought-provoking book is a must read for anyone who wants a deep understanding of how decisions get so easily derailed, and advice on how to stick to well-thought out plans. A truly entertaining journey that will keep you turning pages through the very end.
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In the next scene, the negotiation, his boss offers of $49,000. Before his boss can finish his sentence, Daniel replies: “I’ll take it!”
How is it that we get side-tracked from what we want to do, from what we believe, and even from values we hold?
Psychologist Francesca Gina demonstrates through numerous experiments how subtle influences affect one’s decisions and behaviour. The context triggered Daniel’s anxiety and he accepts what he clearly he does not want.
As Gina demonstrates, there is a plethora of factors that influence one’s behaviour and decisions. If getting advice could improve the outcome of a decision, one will surely ask for the advice, and consider it. Not necessarily. I will depend of what occurred before one had to make the decision.
In an experiment, students were shown one of two movies – a beautiful National Geographic movie and Bodyguard, an emotionally disturbing movie about a bullied schoolboy. The students were then given a challenging task to perform for which they would be paid only for success. 74% of those who saw the Bodyguard rejected the offer of help against only 32% of those who saw the National Geographic movie.
Unconnected, prior emotions influence how we behave in subsequent unrelated situations. Did a driver cut you off on the road to work? Is that why you rejected a staff member’s request to attend a conference?
Ducati, the Italian motorcycle manufacturer is constantly trying to improve their bikes’ performance. They achieve this by having the bikes fitted with sophisticated telemetry and raced around testing tracts. The most expensive sensor on the bike is the rider who also feeds in his riding experience to the information mix. It was noticed that the rider’s input added no improvement at all to the bike’s functioning in too many cases. The rider’s input improved performance only when the researchers factored in the rider’s mood.
The evidence is clear: Our emotions impact our behaviour, thinking and decision even when the two are entirely unrelated. The value of this insight in practice is simply that knowledge creates awareness and so taking one’s emotional temperature before making critical decisions is strongly advised.
Many outstanding businesses were started by friends, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and this is to be expected. Social bonds are an immense asset when they are positive because they enhance one’s effectiveness. Working with conscientious people will heighten your conscientiousness and with enthusiastic people will heighten your enthusiasm.
How strong do bonds have to be to influence behaviour significantly?
Gino tested this in a controlled environment where students were asked to complete as much of a 12 part calculation task as they could in 5 minutes. The whole task could not be completed in that time. On completion they were asked to check their own answers and to take their own pay from an envelope of cash on their desks. They were then to place their answer sheet in the recycle bin. As far as they knew no one would be able to tell if they had cheated.
Based on previous tests the researchers had a fair idea of what percentage of people would cheat in these circumstances by exaggerating the number of answers they had completed correctly.
In one experiment an actor was hired to stand up after a few minutes and ask the researcher what he should do as he had finished. He was informed to count his correct answers and take the appropriate amount from his envelope. He did this then stood up and asked what he should do with the empty envelope, implying that he had finished in an impossible timeframe and had all correct. Clearly, he was cheating. He was told to put both in the recycle bin and leave.
Everyone in the room was aware of this event and as clearly aware he that was cheating and would not be caught. The effect of this incident on the other students’ honesty varied.
In the experiments where the actor wore a neutral coloured t-shirt, cheating amongst the other students increased by only 4%. When actor wore the university’s t-shirt cheating increased by 24%.
We are influenced by subtle cues from others. Is he someone I associate with? Is he one of us? If so, as evidenced by the t-shirt, we are influenced by his behaviour. If he can cheat, and he is one of us, then maybe I can, too.
Social influences need to be taken seriously; they too can sidetrack even the usually honest without one even being aware.
The book is a fascinating collection of insights into behavioural psychology that covers a wide array of issues all of which are part of our everyday experience. You will be fascinated and enriched by reading this book.
Readability Light --+-- Serious
Insights High -+--- Low
Practical High -+--- Low
Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy
The section I really enjoyed and learned a lot from was the second section that was about forces from our relationships. I learned from the drawing an E on your forehead experiment that I focus more on myself that I do on others. I also really enjoyed learning about the curse of knowledge. I now understand that there is a cognitive bias that happens where people have so much knowledge on a subject they can’t understand how people can struggle with the information because they are experts at it. Additionally, I found it very eye opening how there is an “us” vs “them” mentality that not only changes your perception of things but actually changes your behavior. Gino really does a great job at going in depth of explaining how groups of people can have a bias towards other people and their relationships. I feel like she gave us so many examples that it is hard to deny that we have huge biases for certain social situations.
The final portion of the book focuses on forces from the outside. In this section, it outlines how external information can affect how we analyze data as well as how it affects the decisions that we make. One of the more interesting things discussed was considering the sources of information. An example used was a retail store that changed their guidelines on how employees would achieve their sales bonuses. Once the new policy was enacted productivity increased dramatically. However, upon further inspection it was found out that the week before the deadlines employees would purchase products and then return them after bonuses were paid out. This shows that while initial information might be good, further research needs to be done to verify information is correct. Another area these chapters looked at was the effect of “darkness” and human honesty. It showed examples of how individuals who felt that their actions were unknown would be more likely to commit unethical decisions. These examples were interesting because while people generally think of themselves as good, they can easily convince themselves their otherwise immoral actions were acceptable under different circumstances. These external forces discussed in the book showed that the actions we take can easily be influenced by outside sources.
Overall, I feel like this book makes you aware of the distractions in your life in an easy and understandable way. It is split up into three parts that all apply to my life. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to find out what is holding them back from being their best selves.
Like other commentators allude to -- the studies or experiments described seemed to have results preordained which is common for the social sciences. Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to revisit the obvious now and then.
There’s a lot of mentioning of prestigious business schools, professors and business leaders that may have sidetracked me into thinking I would get a lot out of the book. I’m thinking one would learn more from this subject by understanding how magicians or con artists sidetrack their subjects; it certainly would be more interesting and entertaining. But then again, the author would lose prestige in following that pursuit.