Book Summary – Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

Do you often find yourself regretting or abandoning a decision that you’ve made—be it choosing the wrong career, making a poor business decision, or buying something you don’t need? In “Decisive”, the Heath brothers explain why we make poor decisions, and how we can counter our own mental/emotional biases to make better choices.

The authors present 4 key steps in a typical decision-making process, the “villain” that causes bad decisions at each step, and how we can counter them using the “WRAP process” to make better choices. Here’s a quick overview: Decisive Book Summary_WRAP Summary

In our Decisive book summary, we’ll give a brief synopsis of the components above–our decision making processes, villains behind our bad decisions and how to overcome them. To get the full details, examples and tips, do get a copy of “Decisive”, or get a detailed overview with our complete Decisive book summary bundle.

Decisive summary_book summary bundle

There are many books and studies that explain our mental biases and why we make poor decisions, including “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman.

One of the key reasons behind bad decisions is the “spotlight effect”—we make decisions based on the information being spotlighted and our subjective interpretation of that information. In so doing, we miss out on information and options outside of the spotlight.

 

4 VILLAINS OF BAD DECISIONS

The Heath brothers explain 4 key pitfalls (or “villains”) at each key stage of our decision-making process:

Villain #1: Narrow framing

When we face a choice, we tend to look at our options narrowly, and often in binary terms, e.g. “Should I buy a new house or not?” or “Should I quit or stay in my job?”. This limits the options that we consider.

Villain #2: Confirmation bias

As we analyze our options, we tend to only look for data that confirms our beliefs, assumptions and predispositions, instead of truly seeking the best information.

Villain #3: Short-term emotions

Despite our detailed data and analysis, when we actually make our choice, we tend to be influenced more by our short-term feelings.

Villain #4: Overconfidence

After making the decision, we tend to feel certain about how the future will turn out, when in reality we are merely guessing and have no way of accurately predicting the future.

SOLUTION: THE W.R.A.P. PROCESS

To counter the biases above, use the 4 step W.R.A.P. process to overlay your decision-making process. In a nutshell, WRAP stands for: Widen your options, Reality-test your assumptions, Attain distance before deciding, and Prepare to be wrong. Each of the 4 solutions come with sub-strategies and tips to help you apply them.  [Do get the full details from the book or our full 13-page summary.]

WIDEN YOUR OPTIONS

Decisive Book Summary_Widen Options

To overcome your tendency to adopt a narrow frame, there are 3 strategies you can use—avoid a narrow frame, multitrack, and find others who’ve solved your problem. In the book / complete summary, we break these down further to look at why and how to: catch “whether-or-not” questions, expand your options with alternative questions, consider your opportunity costs, explore multiple options simultaneously, find ‘bright spots” and create playlists for future problem-solving and decision-making.

REALITY-TEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS (“OOCHING”)

Decisive Book Summary_Reality-test assumptions

To overcome confirmation bias and our overconfidence in our predictions, we must reality-test our assumptions. The authors explain 3 practical strategies to improve the process and quality of information collection and to test your options before committing to them. In the book / full 13-page summary, we’ll look at what it means to probe for specifics and disconfirming data, zoom out/in to get a realistic assessment and find solutions for your specific situation, and how to test your hypotheses.

Review these ideas and tips at a glance with our book summary and infographic!

ATTAIN DISTANCE BEFORE DECIDING

Decisive Book Summary_Attain Distance

To make sure your choices are aligned with what you trulywant, you need to (a) manage the short-term feelings that cloud your judgement and (b) know and follow your priorities. In the book / complete summary, we zoom in on the impact of our emotional impulses, and explain techniques (like the “10/10/10 principle” and adopting a third-party perspective) to bring back objectivity into our assessments. We also look at why and how to refocus on your real priorities, so you don’t make impulsive choices that you’d regret.

PREPARE TO BE WRONG

Decisive Book Summary_Prepare to be wrong

We cannot accurately predict the future, but we can plan for surprises using 2 strategies by book-ending the future (so you explore a wider range of possibilities) and setting a tripwire (to review your decisions). In the book / full summary, we explain both strategies in more detail, including specific tips to manage your lower bookend (desperate outcome) and upper bookend (dream outcome), as well as to set your tripwires (signals that will force you to make/reconsider a decision at the right time, much like your car’s low-fuel warning indicator).

OTHER DETAILS IN “DECISIVE”

The WRAP process provides a clear and consistent way to make better decisions. The Heath brothers bring these ideas to life using a range of real-life stories, vivid examples and case-studies. The book also includes “clinics” to help you apply the tips using various real-world challenges, and advice on overcoming 11 common roadblocks to the WRAP process.

Do get a copy of the book for the full details, get our Decisive book summary bundle for an overview of the various ideas and tips, or check out more resources at www.heathbrothers.com.

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Overcome your mental biases to make better decisions!

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