Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Review: Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath

Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath


"Chip and Dan Heath, the bestselling authors of Switch and Made to Stick, tackle one of the most critical topics in our work and personal lives: how to make better decisions. 
   Research in psychology has revealed that our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities: We’re overconfident. We seek out information that supports us and downplay information that doesn’t. We get distracted by short-term emotions. When it comes to making choices, it seems, our brains are flawed instruments. Unfortunately, merely being aware of these shortcomings doesn’t fix the problem, any more than knowing that we are nearsighted helps us to see. The real question is: How can we do better?

   In Decisive, the Heaths, based on an exhaustive study of the decision-making literature, introduce a four-step process designed to counteract these biases. Written in an engaging and compulsively readable style, Decisive takes readers on an unforgettable journey, from a rock star’s ingenious decision-making trick to a CEO’s disastrous acquisition, to a single question that can often resolve thorny personal decisions.

   Along the way, we learn the answers to critical questions like these: How can we stop the cycle of agonizing over our decisions? How can we make group decisions without destructive politics? And how can we ensure that we don’t overlook precious opportunities to change our course? 

   Decisive is the Heath brothers’ most powerful—and important—book yet, offering fresh strategies and practical tools enabling us to make better choices. Because the right decision, at the right moment, can make all the difference."

My Thoughts:

My husband and I had a decision to make the other day. We had to decide whether or not to enroll our girls into a second semester of our local Music Together class for $290.00. This decision may seem small compared to other decisions in life.  But, when you look at the time commitment -- 1x a week in the early AM on the weekend, and the overall cost of the class, we had to weigh the options.  The girls seems to enjoyed the first semester class, and both my husband and I have seen how the class had helped teach the girls about music and rhythm. . So, how come even though we knew what the benefits were, we were paralyzed in the decision making process? In the new book DECISIVE by Chip and Dan Heath, the brothers, along with authors of other best selling books, like Made to Stick and Switch, provide the answers to this and other questions regarding decision making and solutions one can apply at work or at home with the children.

In their new book, the brothers provide a thorough research and analysis look into what causes us to make bad decisions, or worse, not make any decisions at all!  This book was easy to read, as I was able to read it in one sitting, while marking up many of the pages to reference in the future.  And, if you are familiar with Chip and Dan Heath, and have read their other two popular book, then you will be pleased to see them using their fun, witty language in this new book, too.  After both my husband and I read the book, we sat down at the table and made use of one of the techniques described in the book to make the decision about enrolling music class.  As the author suggests, we "need to widen our options by changing the question from whether OR not to do something,  to instead asking ourselves "What else can we do with the time and money we otherwise would use to pay for the class?" And, by applying this simple but effective technique, more options were opened up to us and were able to compare them, list out the pros and cons, and ultimately reach a conclusion we were both happy with. Needless to say we have enrolled our kids for a second semester, and will start the 10-week semester next Saturday. Not having applied the technique, we probably would not have chosen to enroll them, and then always having the "what if" feeling afterwards.

If you love Chip and Dan Heath's books, then you will want to pick up their new book, Decisive.  Or, if you are a looking for a great book to read, that will not only be enjoyable, but also help you make crucial decisions in your work and home life, this is the book for you.  Since reading, my husband and I have a better understanding about the decision process, and can sit down and talk things out, in order to make the right decisions we are both happy with.


Disclosure: I was sent an advanced copy of this book by the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone. 

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