In this debut guide to decision-making, a seasoned executive uses real-world examples and in-depth analyses to examine why many successful businesses go wrong.
Sicina, who’s held senior executive positions at Citibank and American Express, shares numerous business scenarios that highlight different reasons for failure, including personal bias, failing to embrace complexity, or overestimating the probability of a successful outcome. The author shares anecdotes involving General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, BlackBerry, and other companies as a means to support his argument that learning from mistakes is the key to successful decision-making. For example, Sicina explains the different biases that went into a decision-making process involving Disney and animation company Pixar, noting how the former was likely affected by “stability bias,” “instinctive decision-making,” and “action-oriented bias.” Throughout the book, the author regularly refers to a framework that he invented called “the Cube.” An illustration shows one side of the Cube as the decision-making environment, involving irrationality, complexity, and uncertainty. On another side are elements of decision-making “fitness” that can alleviate the former: leadership, management, and oversight. The prose sometimes relies too much on jargon (“opaque or wicked problems have interdependencies that distort cause-and-effect relationships”) and the author frequently and distractingly alludes to parts of the book yet to come (“but that’s a story for a later section”). Quotations also appear in the middle of chapters, which readers may find intrusive. Sicina’s case studies might also have been more effective if they each received their own chapters. Still, the last case study is most engaging, as it provides an in-depth look at the energy company Enron that effectively refers to theories that have been explored in previous chapters.
A deep dive into the process of business decisions, hampered by uneven execution.