Recently I read Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (kindle version) by Dan and Chip Heath.
I have a confession to make: I love the books the Heath brothers write. Made to Stick is still one of the best books I’ve ever read on preaching and it isn’t a book about preaching.
We all make decisions everyday, at work, at home. So making decisions in a timely way is something all of us could benefit from. In the book, the authors point what they call “four villains” when it comes to making decisions:
- We have too narrow of focus. The authors called this “spotlight thinking.” Instead of asking should I do this or that, ask how to do both, how can you widen your view. We miss important facts outside our immediate view because we won’t shift the light to see what’s around it. By doing this, you miss options.
- We fall into confirmation bias. We only look for information that confirms what we think. The authors pointed out that when you read reviews on Amazon or Yelp, you eyes go to reviews that confirm what you already think. By doing this, you gather self-serving information.
- We get caught in short-term emotion. We get stuck in decisions because our emotions get tied up in those decisions. By doing this, you are tempted to make the wrong choice.
- We are guilty of overconfidence. The authors write, “People think they know more than they do about how the future will unfold.” By doing this, you miss what could be.
If we aren’t careful, the “four villains” keep us from making wise choices from where to eat, who to hire, or what job to take.
Over the course of the book, the authors lay out their strategy for making better decisions, using what they call the WRAP method:
- Widen your options. As a leader, look for ways to wide your options, how to get more choices. Don’t settle for 2 options, how can you get more?
- Reality-test your assumptions. How can you get outside your head and collect information that you can trust?
- Attain distance before deciding. In making a decision, you must remove yourself from the equation. Asking what someone in your shoes would do, what would a new hire in your position do.
- Prepare to be wrong. That one is self explanatory, don’t get attached to your decisions, make them as fluid as possible. Don’t say, “never” or “always.”
Overall, this is a great read. While not as ground breaking as their other books, it’s good. I haven’t read a ton of books on how to make decisions, but would imagine this is a great place to start.