We make all kinds of decisions everyday. Unfortunately, when it comes to decision-making, our brains are imperfect instruments that can lead us to making flawed decisions.
In Decisive: How To Make Better Choices In Life And Work, Chip Heath and Dan Heath offer explicit practical tools on how to overcome our natural biases and irrational thinking to make better decisions about our work, lives and careers.
Drawing on extensive studies, stories and research, the Heath brothers claim that the traditional ‘pros and con’s decision-making model is flawed because we hold certain biases that can influence our decisions (evident from several research findings.)
The pros-and-cons approach is familiar. It is commonsensical. And it is also profoundly flawed. (Decisive, page 8)
The Heath brothers call these biases the ‘4 Villains of Decision Making’ which are:
- Narrow Framing – unduly limiting the options we consider.
- The Confirmation Bias – seeking out information that bolsters our beliefs.
- Short-Term Emotion – being swayed by emotions that will fade.
- Overconfidence – having too much faith with our predictions.
Thus, to make better decisions, we must avoid these common decision-making biases. The Heath brothers introduce a four-step process designed to counteract these biases. Note the mnemonic acronym WRAP:
Wider Your Options
Narrow framing leads us to overlook options. (Teenagers and executives often make ‘whether or not’ decisions.) We need to uncover new options and, when possible, consider them simultaneously through multitracking. (Think AND not OR.) Where can you find new options? Find someone who has solved your problem. Try laddering: First look for current bright spots (local), then best practices (regional), and then analogies from related domains (distant).
Reality-Test Your Assumptions
In assessing our options, the confirmation bias leads us to collect skewed, self-serving information. To combat that bias, we can ask disconfirming questions. We can also zoom out and zoom in. And whenever possible we should ooch, conducting small experiments to teach us more. Why predict when you can know?
Attain Distance Before Proceeding
Short-term emotion tempts us to make choices that are bad in the long term. To avoid that, we need to avoid distance by shifting perspective: What would I tell my bestfriend to do? Or, what would my successor would do? When decisions are agonizing, we need to clarify our core priorities and go on the offensive for them.
Prepare To Be Wrong
We are overconfident, thinking we know how the future will unfold when we really don’t. We should prepared for bad outcomes (premortem) as well as good ones (preparade). And what would make us reconsider our decisions? We can set tripwires that snap us to attention at the right moments.
If you are looking for a book that will help you make better decisions in your work and life, ‘Decisive’ is perfect for you.