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Why Decisions Fail Paperback – July 15, 2002
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Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Ohio State University Professor Paul C. Nutt, who has spent more than 20 years studying how decision are made, says failures can be traced to three blunders and seven traps. Avoiding the blunders and the traps they set will cut one's failure rate significantly.
The blunders to avoid:
* Failure-Prone Practices
* Premature Commitments
* Wrong-Headed Investments.
These blunders lead unsuspecting managers into seven ensnaring traps:
* Failure to Reconcile Claims
* Failure to Manage the Forces Created by a Decision
* Ambiguous Directions
* Limited Search with No Innovation
* Misuse of Evaluation
* Avoidance of Ethic Questions
* Failure to Learn.
Sounds simple; yet anyone who has participated in a project recognizes these blunders and traps. In fact, most of us could supply the author with reams of case studies to add to the ones he uses to illustrate his points.
This is a great book and should be read by project managers and corporate managers alike. Microsoft's number may seem high, but there is no doubt we participate in too many projects that spiral behind schedule and over-budget. Good decision making techniques can only help improve our results.
There are some punctuation issues and tense shifts, which are distracting, but the most glaring issue is the author's habit of mentioning an example briefly and then dropping it, only to return a few pages or chapters later, and then switching among several examples before returning to discuss the decision theory. The narrative thread can get pretty muddled at times. I wish he had chosen a structure and stuck to it (give example then use it to illustrate the theory; give theory then explain using an example; explain theory and example together; etc.) as he progressed through each section. Also, the author will drop casual references to things like product recalls and business conditions from the seventies and eighties, as though any reader would remember them. The book reads like it was written (probably over years) and then completely reorganized without being rewritten. It would really benefit from a thorough revision and restructuring.
Paul Nutt does the following well:
-Introduce concepts and best practices that can be utilized in any field
-Apply said concepts to a series of well-publicized blunders
-Explain how these concepts apply to these situations and how best practices would mitigate disaster in these situations
What Could be better:
-As another review said, the organization could have been better for this book, and it could benefit from a stronger introduction which helps to explain the structure of the book a little more.
-I also picked up a few typos and incorrect tense uses.
This is one of the few text books I plan to keep and even hold as a communication reference.
The book has a wealth of information on processes that can gain buy-in and make for more successful decisions. The problem? Many of these processes have limited usefulness for readers beneath the executive level. For those making everyday decisions under tight deadlines, the processes the author lays out may be less useful. In addition, the author fails to capture the reader’s interest at the most critical juncture: explaining why decisions fail and how to avoid these failures.
The book’s greatest strength is its breadth of research. Author Paul C. Nutt spent over 20 years studying 400 decisions to create a formula for failure prone decisions, which in turn led to a guide in how to avoid re-creating these mistakes. Each chapter begins by clearly defining the given topic before introducing real-world examples, finishing with a review of key points discussed in the chapter.
Nutt outlines 15 cases but focuses on five main organizational cases of failed decision making: Euro Disney’s opening outside of Paris, Ford Auto’s release and recall of the Pinto, Beechnut baby food’s use of inferior ingredients and the subsequent cover-up, Nestle’s sale of infant formula in the third world, and Denver International Airport’s construction and opening.
The first few chapters are riveting, with each of these cases and failures explored in detail. Descriptions of Disney shareholders throwing wheels of brie at CEO Michael Eisner, or teenagers dying in a fiery car wreck, succeed in bringing these failures to real and horrifying life.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Required reading for one of my classes for my Masters Degree. Interesting. Good information.Published 22 months ago by Dale L Coppock
This book has insights about decision making that are found in few other places. The examples, however, could include some newer ones that have happened since the book was written.Published on December 14, 2012 by Joseph N. Scudder
We often learn more from those who fail than those who succeed. The value in this book is in learning how to avoid using poor decision making techniques. Read morePublished on May 29, 2008 by M. Rigg
My textbook arrived in perfect condition and in record time. My only complaint is the following:
I received an email from Amazon saying my bank declined payment and my order... Read more