Book Review : Decisive

decisiveWe make hundreds of choices every day. Some of them we are fully aware of and others seem automatic in nature. Choices such as “What should I have for breakfast?” What route should I take to work?” Do these clothes match?” Should I ask my boss for a raise?” I have a job offer, should I move my family to another state?” When faced with so many possibilities, choices, and options, how can we ensure that we make the right decision? In their new book, “Decisive; How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work”, authors Chip and Dan Heath takes this question head on and provides a format for making the best possible decision from among many choices given. Most of our decisions, as the authors relate, are made out of habit, custom, and past choices. The Heath’s begin by showing the fault in the traditional decision-making process. Traditionally, people make a list of pros and cons for each decision and choosing the one with fewer cons. The flaw, as the Heath’s agree, is that this process does not take into account the many internal and external forces.

These outside forces are described by the Heath’s as villains in decision making. These four villains make up the four major parts of the book. The villains are:

 1. Narrow-framing. This is the tendency to define our choices too narrowly, thus putting ourselves in a confined box from which to act.

2. Confirmation Bias. We also have the tendency to highlight and consider the information that supports the conclusion we have arrived at and discard any information that objects.

3. Short-term Emotion. Instead of thinking long-term, we allow our emotions to dictate our actions based on what does or does not feel good.

4. Overconfidence. Far too often we are certain that we know how the future will unfold and we make predictions based on this false sense of confidence.

After introducing the reader to the villains that will disrupt and handicap our decision-making process, the Heath’s offer a strategy to combat these villains. Using the acronym WRAP, they detail an effective decision-making process. The four steps are:

1. Widen Your Choices. The Heath’s recommend avoiding the narrow definition of your choice. We are to seek other options instead of being locked into just a few.

2. Reality Test Your Assumptions. The Heath’s recommend gathering information that you can trust that is both in support of and against your preferred options.

3. Attain Distance Before Deciding. The key here is to broaden your perspective and get away from the emotional element of our decision. Seek others who have made a similar decision and get their advice.

4. Prepare to be Wrong. What happens after you do your diligence in making your decision and you are wrong? Are you prepared for that scenario? Failure is a reality, even after doing all we can to prevent it. Be ready for it.

The Heath’s have written a great book. They have a keen understanding of the business world that comes through clearly. “Decisive” is well researched and written. The Heath’s use countless examples of real-life leaders of some of the major US and world companies as mini case studies on the decision-making process. I believe this gives the book the credibility it needs. The decisions of these executives demonstrate the WRAP process in detail. This book is written from the business standpoint. You will not find any prominent spiritual application. However, regardless of your profession, this generic process can be applied with success. Great book. Read it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah  Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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