If you buy one book on decision making make it this one, read the first half, and then tuck it away in a handy spot. Forever. Decisive opens by outlining and explaining the four “villains” that prevent us from making optimal decisions in work and life. The decision process and the errors we make are:
* You encounter a choice. But NARROW FRAMING makes you miss options.
* You analyze your options. But the CONFIRMATION BIAS leads you to gather self-serving
* You make a choice. But SHORT-TERM EMOTION will often tempt you to make the wrong one.
* Then you live with it. But you’ll often be OVERCONFIDENT about how the future will unfold
The authors bring the errors to life through the effective use of examples and storytelling. The second half of the book is devoted to the WRAP process, the authors’ solution to overcome flawed thinking:
* Widen your options
* Reality Test Your Assumptions
* Attain Some Distance
* Prepare to Be Wrong
The WRAP process is useful and so are several of the decision tips and tricks (e.g., ooching, zoom in/zoom/out,) but the stories are less so and failed to keep me engaged.
Honestly, in my view, our biggest problem is the awareness and acceptance that we even HAVE a problem making decisions. We, humans, tend to think highly of ourselves and our decision-making abilities. If every person created a wallet card that highlighted the four decision villains and referred to it often, I imagine our decision skills would improve measurably.
Interestingly, I found myself reflecting on my own life and decisions while reading Decisive—i.e., I considered the major decisions I’ve made, the outcomes achieved, and whether, in hindsight, a villain interfered with me making the best decision at the time. Sure enough, I’ve fallen prey to each one of the villains at one point or another. But I found this post-mortem exercise incredibly valuable—it helped me to not only understand my tendencies but how to overcome them in the future.
Although I didn’t love every aspect of Decisive, the book makes it to my “short list of effective tools for effective living” list. It would be a wonderful gift for oneself or for a child leaving home for college.