Sunday, August 14, 2016


You got to where you are by millions of decisions.  Most of them were seemingly trivial.  Some of them turned out ok perhaps by correctness or maybe by luck.  Many were positive, but not quite what you had hoped for.  And then there are others you wish you could take back.  You can move towards a more satisfying life by making better decisions.  "Decisive" by Chip and Dan Heath offer a different perspective and lots of practical suggestions.  I am sure many readers, including myself will wish they had read this book sooner.  It is never too late to improve your situation. and reading this book would be a good decision.

Some decisions are more important than others.  Personally I have recommended and tried to use the Ben Franklin method (weighing the pros and cons) when confronted with a serious decision.  Chip and Dan Heath have found serious limitations with this standard method, especially for the more important decisions.  Studies show that process is more critical than analytical (such as the Ben Franklin method) by a factor of 6.

That got my attention.  The following is a short form of what they suggest is a better way.

They identify four problems with decision making regarding analysis.  Lots of examples.

One problem is the decision is too narrowly defined.  It is not necessarily one action or a different action.

Analysis is subject to confirmation bias.  That is, we have a tendency to select facts that bolster our preference.

A common problem is we are trapped in our circumstances If we can take an outside perspective we can detach ourselves from short term emotions.

A fourth problem is that we are often over-confident of how we see the future.

Taking a different angle, the authors propose a different strategy, one that focuses on process.  They label it WRAP.  Widen options.  Reality-test your assumptions, Attain Distance before Deciding.  Prepare to be wrong.

Of course these strategies are easier to state than to actually do.  There are many practical details with interesting examples.

One example was a reference to President Dwight Eisenhower when he explains the cost of a heavy bomber not in dollar terms, but as equivalent to 30 brick school houses.  There are always alternatives.

Another  example was David Lee Roth, famous rock star with apparently weird requests.  For a rock concert they requested containers of M and M candies with all the brown ones removed.  This request was actually buried amongst others reflecting their need for technical requirements for their performance.  Arriving at a new performance site they would check this seemingly vain preference  feeling relieved if it was adhered to, but if not they immediately set up a check of the critical technical details necessary for an optimal performance.  The authors label this a "tripwire."

Most decisions involve other people who often are not included in the process.  The success of a decision often revolves around those who are not consulted.  The authors advocate greater inclusion to get greater commitment.  This sense of fairness was reflected in another book I read, "The Art of Engagement."  Read more:

There are many other examples and explanations to better think of decisions as a process rather than merely an analysis.

A quote that got my attention;  "Sometimes the hardest part of making a good decision is knowing there is one to be made."  This points out the merit of having a tripwire.

To read more of what Chip and Dan have to say go to:

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