Book summary: Decisive

By Aditya Bhushan Dwivedi|12th Oct 2013
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decisive

We take decisions all the time. Some turn out to be good, others are not as good. This book deals with the art of decision-making and helps us avoid the basic cognitive biases and thus take rational decisions.

This time we decided to do away from the book review and do a summary of "Decisive" for our busy readers and see how it helps them.

To enable us to make better decisions, the book tells us to follow four process. Which are also the sub parts of the book. They are listed as:

1) Widen your options

This can be done by avoiding narrow framing - Which is nothing but to think only in terms of options provided, here the author tells us to look beyond the information which is given to us. Mostly it happens in case of “this or that, whether or not” kind of decisions. In this case he encourages us to think in term of AND rather than OR. And encourages us to explore ways to seek both options, like how to get “this AND that” instead of choosing between a whether or not and selecting only one choice, why don't we look at both choices and try to get both.

We should consider multiple options, including those which are not provided to us. But not so many that it leads to decision paralysis, ideally one - two more options are enough. Also when we consider only one option somehow it makes way for our ego to be associated with it, but not so with multiple options.

Also looking for already solved problems which are similar to ours is a great way to arrive at solutions. This can be done by looking at people in the same space and using analogies.

2) Reality test your assumptions

Reality testing is required to overcome confirmation bias – that is, when we want the results in our favor, we will choose only those tests which will help strengthen our assumptions and subconsciously leaving out those which may lead us away from our desired results.

One of the ways to do it is to look for the opposite, seek disagreement and the reasons for it. Seek opinions of people who play devil's advocate. The key is to ask probing questions which reveal more information about the topic being discussed. And NOT ask leading questions like “Would you prefer X or Y, Don't you think X is a bit better than Y” This leads to subconscious Narrow framing of the mind of the person who answers the question. A better approach is to ask questions like “what is your preference/ what are the differences between X and Y”

Also looking at a situation from both perspectives, both Inside and outer view leads to a better understanding of situation. we generally get blinded by only one part of the problem, either get too much into the problem and miss the larger picture or look at a problem from the outside and do not get into the intricate details required to make better decisions.

One of the best ways to reality test our assumptions is to go out and test them with a small sample size.

3) Attain distance before deciding

Most of the times we get emotionally attached to the situations at hand and thus take decisions which are clouded by our temporary emotions thus avoiding us to think clearly. one of the solutions to this problem is to employ 10/10/10 principle which is nothing but,

10 Minutes - How will you feel 10 minutes from now about this decision.

10 Months - How will you feel 10 months from now about this decision.

10 Years - How will you feel 10 years from now about this decision.

What would you advise (the person closest to you) to do in the current situation - This helps you the see the situation form a third person's perspective.

Whenever we take a long time to make a decision, there is a high probability that our core priorities are at stake and also might get ignored or shifted which must be watched out for. Thus every decision should answer the question is it serving my core priority.

4) Prepare to be wrong

In order to take the best decisions we must prepare for both cases, absolute best and worst case scenario and thus hedge our decisions. The best thing is this case is not to take extremely specific decisions, rather think in a range which covers both best case and worst case scenarios.

Another great warning to the impending disasters is to set tripwires and paying attention to it. Tripwires are nothing but the alarms and small signals which are indicative of impending trouble and must be watched out for.

And finally whatever process is being adopted, efforts should be made to ensure that all stakeholders understand the process and see that the process used to arrive at the decision was just and transparent.

The writing style of the book is great and very easy for a layman to get through, though the book gets a bit boring in the middle but it is a really great book for entrepreneurs and will also help them take better decisions in their life.

To know in detail about decision making, do read this book on weekend and tell us what you feel.

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