A manual on how to become more rational when facing difficult decisions at work and in your personal life.
The brothers Heath (Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, 2010, etc.) are a writing team with a couple of best-selling business titles under their belt. Chip, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Dan, a senior fellow at Duke’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, specialize in writing about how human behavior affects organizations. Their present collaboration examines a variety of decision-making processes in business and personal life—whom to hire, which job to take, which schools to apply to, whom to pursue a romantic relationship with—and argues that those processes matter more to the outcome than the decisions themselves. The Heaths argue that humans are hampered by four “enemies” of decision-making rooted in our unconscious behavior: narrow focus, confirmation bias, short-term emotion and overconfidence in the outcome. They propose a four-step model called WRAP (“Widen your options, Reality-test your assumptions, Attain distance before deciding, and Prepare to be wrong”) that they believe provides a template for good decision-making. All this is presented in the introductory chapter. The rest of the book fleshes out the Heaths’ thesis with dozens of examples of best practices—e.g., Sam Walton’s bus tour of competitors to decide how to speed customers through checkout lines; an Intel executive’s insight that enabled him to drop a safe product line and focus on a riskier one; a San Diego nonprofit’s struggle to decide to stick with their increasingly successful local mission or attempt a national one.
Readers approaching this book because they have a pressing decision may be annoyed by the Heaths’ lumbering pace, but for those who want to improve decision-making overall, the workshop style of the narrative should prove helpful.