Decisive.gif

DECISIVE

by

Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Book Report by Gary Tomlinson

A Book Report on

Decisive

(How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work)

By Chip Heath & Dan Heath

 

(Book Report by Gary Tomlinson)

 

“I am not a product of my Circumstances; I am a product of my Decisions!”

Stephen Covey

 

Message from Gary Tomlinson:  If you have not read the book Decisive, my book report won’t make as much sense.  I have had the opportunity to read a lot of great educational books.  This is one of the very best!  As Stephen Covey says above, we are a product of our decisions.  If you’ve read Decisive you already know how valuable this book is.  If you haven’t, then I suggest you go out and buy a copy right away and have it be the next book you read.  I promise you’ll be happy you did. 

 

Preface:  Research in psychology has revealed that our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities: We’re overconfident.  We seek out information that supports us and downplay information that doesn’t.  We get distracted by short-term emotions.  When it comes to making choices, it seems, our brains are flawed instruments.  Unfortunately, merely being aware of these shortcomings doesn’t fix the problem; any more than knowing that we are nearsighted helps us to see.  The real question is: How can we do better?

 

When researchers compared whether process or analysis was more important in producing good decisions – those that increased revenues, profits and market share – they found that “process mattered more than analysis – by a factor of six.  Often a good process led to better analysis – for instance, by ferreting out faulty logic.  But the reverse was not true: “Superb analysis is useless unless the decision process gives it a fair hearing.”

 

A better decision process substantially improves the results of the decisions as well as the financial returns associated with them.  A solid process isn’t just good for business; it’s good for our lives.

 

 

Chapter 1: The Four Villains of Decision Making

 

If you think about a normal decision process, it usually proceeds in four steps:

 

  1. You encounter a choice.

  2. You analyze your options.

  3. You make a choice.

  4. Then you live with it.

 

 

 

There is a villain that affects each of these four stages:

 

  1. You encounter a choice.  But narrow framing makes you miss options.  Narrow framing is the tendency to define our choices too narrowly, to see them in binary terms.  Any time in life you’re tempted to think, “Should I do this OR that?” instead, ask yourself, “Is there a way I can do this AND that?”  It’s surprisingly frequent that it’s feasible to do both things.

 

  1. You analyze your options.  But the confirmation bias leads you to gather self-serving information.  Our normal habit in life is to develop a quick belief about a situation and then seek out information that bolsters our belief.  When people have the opportunity to collect information from the world. They are more likely to select information that supports their preexisting attitudes, beliefs and actions.  When we want something to be true, we will spotlight the things that support it and then, when we draw conclusions from those spotlighted scenes, we’ll congratulate ourselves on a reasoned decision.  Oops!

 

  1. You make a choice.  But short-term emotion will often tempt you to make the wrong one. 

 

  1. Then you live with it.  But you’ll often be overconfident about how the future will unfold.  People think they know more than they do about how the future will unfold.  We have too much confidence in our own predictions.  The problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know.  The future has an uncanny ability to surprise.  We can’t shine a spotlight on areas when we don’t know they exist.
     

 

Introduction and Chapter One in One Page

The Four Villains of Decision Making

 

  1. Danny Kahneman: “A remarkable aspect of your mental life is that you are rarely stumped.”

    • Should Shannon fire Clive? We form opinions effortlessly.

 

  1. What’s in our spotlight = the most accessible information + our interpretation of that information.  But that will rarely be all that we need to make a good decision.

 

  1. Our decision “track record” isn’t great.  Trusting our guts or conducting rigorous analysis won’t fix it.  But a good process will.

    • Study: “Process mattered more than analysis – by a factor of six.”

 

  1. We can defeat the four villains of decision making by learning to shift our spotlights.

 

  1. Villain 1: Narrow framing (unduly limiting the options we consider)

    • HopeLab had five firms work simultaneously on Stage 1; “Can I do this AND that?”

 

  1. Villain 2: The confirmation bias (seeking out information that bolsters our beliefs)

    • The tone-deaf American Idol contestant…

    • Lovallo: “Confirmation bias is probably the single biggest problem in business.”

 

  1. Villain 3: Short-term emotion (being swayed by emotions that will fade)

    • Intel’s Andy Grove got distance by asking, “What would our successors do?”

 

  1. Villain 4: Overconfidence (having too much faith in our predictions)

    • “Four-piece groups with guitars, particularly, are finished.”

 

  1. The pro-and-cons process won’t correct these problems.  But the WRAP process will.

    • Joseph Priestley conquered all four villains.

 

  1. To make better decisions, use the WRAP process:

    • Widen Your Options

    • Reality-Test Your Assumptions

    • Attain Distance Before Deciding

    • Prepare to Be Wrong.

 

 

Widen Your Options

 

Chapter 2: Avoid a Narrow Frame

 

When you hear the telltale signs of a narrow frame – people wondering “whether or not” they should make a certain decision or rehashing arguments endlessly about the same limited set of choices – push them to Widen Their Options.

 

Prod them for their opportunity cost; what else could they do with the same time and money?  Or try the Vanishing Options Test: Ask them what they would do if their current alternatives disappeared.

 

Being stuck in a narrow frame is hard to recognize – but only when you’re the one inside it.  From the outside, as an advisor, you will be able to see clearly when your coworkers or your children are unduly limiting their choices.  A wider view can sometimes make a big difference.

 

 

Chapter Two in One Page

Avoid a Narrow Frame

 

  1. Teenagers get trapped in a narrow frame.  They are blind to their choices.

    • “Should I go to the party or not?”

 

  1. Unfortunately, most organizations tend to make decisions like teenagers.

    • Quaker lost $1.5 billion in three years on the Snapple acquisition.

    • Nutt research: Only 29% of organizations considered more than one alternative (versus 30% of teens).

 

  1. Often our options are far more plentiful that we think.

    • College-selection counselor Price helps students explore their full range of options.

 

  1. Why do we get stuck in a narrow frame?  Focusing on our current options means that other things are out of our spotlight.

    • Frederick got stuck choosing between two stereos – he failed to consider his options.

 

  1. How do we escape a narrow frame?  Think about opportunity cost.

    • Keep the $14.99 for other purchases.

    • Eisenhower: One bomber = a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

 

  1. Or try the Vanishing Options Test: What if your current options disappeared?

    • Margaret Sanders realized she had a better option than firing Anna, the introverted receptionist.

    • When our options “disappear,” we’re forced to move our spotlights.

 

  1. It’s easier to spot a narrow frame from the outside – watch for it as a decision advisor.  “Whether or not” decisions should set off warning bells.

 


Chapter Three in One Page

Multitrack

 

  1. Multitracking = considering more than one option simultaneously.

    • The naming firm Lexicon widens its options by assigning a task to multiple small teams; including an “excursion team” that considers a related task from a very different domain.

 

  1. When you consider multiple options simultaneously, you learn the “shape” of the problem.

    • When designers created ads simultaneously, they scored higher on creativity and effectiveness.

 

 

  1. Multitracking also keeps egos in check – and can actually be faster!

    • When you develop only one option, your ego is tied up in it.

    • Eisenhardt’s research on Silicon Valley firms: Multitracking minimized politics and provided a built-in fallback plan.

 

  1. While decision paralysis may be a concern for people who consider many options, we’re pushing for only one or two extra.  And the payoff can be huge.

    • We’re not advocating 24 kinds of jam.  When the German firm considered two or more alternatives, it made six times as many “very good” decisions.

 

  1. Beware “sham options.”

    • Kissinger: “Nuclear war, present policy or surrender.”

    • One diagnostic: If people on your team disagree about the options, you have real options.

 

  1. Toggle between the prevention and promotion mindsets.

    • Prevention focus = avoiding negative outcomes.  Promotion focus = pursuing positive outcomes.

    • Companies who used both mindsets performed much better after a recession.

    • Doreen’s husband, Frank, prompted her to think about boosting happiness, not just limiting stress.

 

  1. Push for “this AND that” rather than “this OR that.”

 

 

Chapter Four in One Page

Find Someone Who’s Solved Your Problem

 

  1. When you need more options but feel stuck, look for someone who’s solved your problem.

 

  1. Look outside: competitive analysis, benchmarking, best practices.

    • Sam Walton discovered an ingenious checkout solution by scoping out another store.

 

  1. Look inside.  Find your bright spots.

    • Kaiser’s leaders found and scaled a solution for sepsis pioneered by one of Kaiser’s own hospitals.

    • What can you learn from your own bright spots (e.g., the four days you went to the gym last month)?

 

 

  1. Note: To be proactive, encode your greatest hits in a decision “playlist.”

    • A checklist stops people from making an error; a playlist stimulates new ideas.

    • Advertisers Hughes and Johnson use a playlist to spark lots of creative ideas quickly.

    • A playlist for budget cuts might include a prompt to switch between the prevention and promotion mindsets: Can you cut more here to invest more there?

 

  1. A third place to look for ideas: in the distance.  Ladder up via analogies.

    • Kevin Dunbar: Analogies are a pillar of scientific problem solving.  Scientists make progress through analogies to similar experiments and similar organisms.

    • Ladder up: Lower rungs show close analogies (low risk and low novelty), while higher rungs reveal more distant solutions (higher risk and higher novelty).

    • Fiona Fairhurst designed a speedier swimsuit by laddering up and analyzing “anything that moves fast,” including sharks and torpedoes.

 

  1. Why generate your own ideas when you can sample the world’s buffet of options?

 

 

Reality Test Your Assumptions

 

Chapter 5: Consider the Opposite

 

Hubris is exaggerated pride or self-confidence that often results in a comeuppance.  To make good decisions, CEOs need the courage to seek out disagreement.

 

In reviewing over 91 studies of over 8,000 participants, researchers concluded that we are more than twice as likely to favor confirming information than disconfirming information.  The study found that the confirmation bias was stronger in emotion-laden domains such as religion or politics and also when people had a strong underlying motive to believe one way or the other.

 

We know that the confirmation bias will skew our assessment.  If we feel a whisker’s worth of preference for one option over another, we can be trusted to train our spotlight on favorable data.  So how can we learn to overcome the confirmation bias and Reality-Test the Assumptions we’re making.  The first step is to develop the discipline to consider the opposite of our initial instincts.  That discipline begins with a willingness to spark constructive disagreement.

 

 

 

Here are three approaches we can use for fighting the confirmation bias:

 

  1. We can make it easier for people to disagree with us.

  2. We can ask questions that are more likely to surface contrary information.

  3. We can check ourselves by considering the opposite.

 

 

 

Chapter Five in One Page

Consider the Opposite

 

  1. Confirmation bias = hunting for information that confirms our initial assumptions (which are often self-serving).

    • The hubris of CEOs can be counteracted by disagreement.  We need the same disagreement to counteract our confirmation bias.

 

  1. We need to spark constructive disagreement within our organization.

    • The devil’s advocate, murder boards, and The Gong Show all license skepticism.  How can we?

    • Roger Martin’s brilliant question: “What would have to be true for this option to be the very best choice?

 

  1. To gather more trustworthy information, we can ask disconfirming questions.

    • Law students: “Who were the last three associates to leave the firm?  What are they doing now?  How can I contact them?”

    • iPod buyers: “What problems does the iPod have?”

 

  1. Caution: Probing questions can backfire in situations with a power dynamic.

    • Doctors are wiser to use open-ended questions.  “What do you mean by ‘dizzy’?”

 

  1. Extreme disconfirmation: Can we force ourselves to consider the opposite of our instincts?

    • A marriage diary helps a frustrated spouse see that his/her partner isn’t always selfish.

    • “Assuming positive intent” spurs us to interpret someone’s actions/words in a more positive light.

 

  1. We can even test our assumptions with a deliberate mistake.

    • Schoemaker’s firm won $1 million in business by experimenting with the RFP process.

    • One women actually married her “mistake.”

 

  1. Because we naturally seek self-confirming information, we need discipline to consider the opposite.

 

 

Chapter 6: Zoom Out, Zoom In

 

When we assess our choices, we’ll take the inside view by default.  We’ll consider the information in the spotlight and use it to form quick impressions.  What we’ve seen, though, is that we can correct this bias by doing two things” zooming out and zooming in.

 

When we zoom out, we take the outside views, learning from the experiences of others who have made choices like the one we’re facing.  When we zoom in, we take a close-up of the situation, looking for “color” that could inform our decision.  Either strategy is helpful and either one will add insight in a way that conference-room pontificating rarely will.  When possible, we should do both.

 

Zooming out and zooming in gives us a more realistic perspective on our choices.  We downplay the overly optimistic pictures we tend to paint inside our minds and instead redirect our attention to the outside world, viewing it in wide-angle and then in close-up.

 

 

Chapter Six in One Page

Zoom Out, Zoom In

 

  1. Often we trust, “the averages” over our instincts – but not as much as we should.

    • We trust the horrible reviews of the Polynesian Resort.  But we don’t always seek reviews for our most important decisions (new job, college major).

 

  1. The inside view = our evaluation of our specific situation.  The outside view = how things generally unfold in situation like ours.  The outside view is more accurate, but most people gravitate toward the inside view.

    • Jack knows his Thai restaurant will be a hit.  Lumping himself with other restaurants feels wrong.

    • Kahneman’s curriculum story: Even the dean, who knew the base rates, got stuck in the inside view.

 

  1. If you can’t find the “base rates” for your decision, ask an expert.

    • You might ask an IP lawyer; “What percentage of cases get settled before trial?” etc.

    • Warning: Experts are good at estimating base rates but lousy at making predictions.

 

  1. A “close-up” can add texture that’s missing from the outside view.

    • Brian Zikmund-Fisher studied the base-rate outcomes of patients with MDS, but he also sought a close-up (discovering the need for exercise and a “third adult”).

    • FDR had his staff compile a statistical “mail brief” and he also read a sample of the letters.

    • More close-ups: Xerox’s customer officer of the day.  “Going to the genba.”  Using competitor’s paper towels.

 

  1. To gather the best information, we should zoom out and zoom in (Outside view + close-up).

 

 

Chapter 7: Ooch

 

To Ooch is to ask, “Why predict something we can test?”  “Why guess when we can know?”  Those questions bring us to the end of this section, in which we’ve been studying strategies for fighting the confirmation bias.  The basic problem we face, in analyzing our options, is this: We will usually have an inkling of the one that we want to be the winner and even the faintest inkling will propel us to gather supportive information – and sometimes nothing but supportive information.  We cook the books to support our gut instincts.

 

To avoid that trap, we’ve got to Reality-Test Our Assumptions.  We’ve seen three strategies for doing that.  First, we’ve got to be diligent about the way we collect information, asking disconfirming questions and considering the opposite.  Second, we’ve got to go looking for the right kinds of information: zooming out to find base rates, which summarize the experiences of others, and zooming in to get a more nuanced impression of reality.  And finally, the ultimate reality-testing is to Ooch: to take our options for a spin before we commit.

 

 

Chapter Seven in One Page

Ooch

 

  1. Ooching = running small experiments to test our theories.  Rather than jumping in headfirst, we dip a toe in.

    • John Hands at NI ooched with wireless sensors in the Costa Rican jungle.

    • Physical therapy students volunteer for at least a hundred hours before they enroll.

    • Legal secretary Peggy made a conscious decision to ooch away from her obsessive eating habits.

 

  1. Ooching is particularly useful because we’re terrible at predicting the future.

    • Tetlock’s research showed that experts’ predictions are worse than simple extrapolations from base rates.

 

 

  1. Entrepreneurs ooch naturally.  Rather than create business forecasts, they go out and try things.

    • CarsDirect.com asked: Can we sell one car over the Internet?

    • Researcher Sarasvathy on attitudes of successful entrepreneurs: “To the extent that we can control the future, we do not need to predict it.”

    • Intuit’s Scott Cook believes in “leadership by experiment,” not by “politics, persuasion and PowerPoint.”  The successful India mobile-phone service would have failed a debate.

 

 

  1. Caveat: Ooching is counterproductive for situations that require commitment.

    • The mid-twenties guy who wonders about marine biology should ooch.  The guy who knows he needs a degree – but dreads going back – should not.

 

  1. Common hiring error: We try to predict success via interviews.  We should ooch instead.

    • Dan Heath wrongly agonized about whether to hire an obviously qualified artist.

    • Studies show that interviews are less diagnostic than work samples, peer ratings, etc.  Can you nix the interview and offer a short-term consulting contract?

 

  1. Why would we ever predict when we can know?

 

 

Attain Distance Before Deciding

 

Chapter 8: Overcome Short-Term Emotion

 

So far, we’ve spent some time thinking about how to generate more options for ourselves by Widening Our Options and how to assess those options by Reality-Testing Our Assumptions.  And now it’s time to choose.

 

Perhaps our worst enemy in resolving these conflicts is short-term emotion, which can be an unreliable advisor.  But we are not slaves to our emotions.  Visceral emotion fades.  That’s why the folk wisdom advises that when we’ve got an important decision to make, we should sleep on it.  Its sound advice and we should take it to heart.

 

There’s a tool we can use to accomplish this emotion sorting, one invented by Suzy Welch.  It’s called 10/10/10.  To use 10/10/10, we think about our decisions on three different time frames: How will we feel about it 10 minutes from now?  How about 10 months from now?  How about 10 years from now?  Conducting a 10/10/10 analysis doesn’t presuppose that the long-term perspective is the right one.  It simply ensures that short-term emotion isn’t the only voice at the table.

Chapter Eight in One Page

Overcome Short-Term Emotion

 

  1. Fleeting emotions tempt us to make decisions that are bad in the long term.

    • Car salesmen are trained to prey on customers’ emotions to close a deal quickly.

 

  1. To overcome distracting short-term emotions, we need to attain some distance.

    • Millionaire teacher Andrew Hallam avoided car lots so he could stick to his criteria.

 

  1. 10/10/10 provides distance by forcing us to consider future emotions as much as present one.

    • A 10/10/10 analysis tipped Annie toward saying “I love you” first to Karl.

 

  1. Our decisions are often altered by two subtle short-term emotions: (1) mere exposure: we like what’s familiar to us; and (2) loss aversion: losses are more painful than gains are pleasant.

    • How many of our organizational truths are ideas that we like merely because they’ve been repeated a lot?

    • Students given a mug won’t sell if for less than $7.12 even though five minutes earlier they wouldn’t have paid more than $2.87.

 

  1. Loss aversion + mere exposure = status-quo bias.

    • PayPal: Ditching the PalmPilot product was a no-brainer – but it didn’t feel that way.

 

  1. We can attain distance by looking at our situation from an observer’s perspective.

    • Andy Grove asked, “What would our successors do?”

    • Adding distance highlights what is most important; it allow us to see the forest, not the trees.

 

  1. Perhaps the most powerful question for resolving personal decisions is “What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?”

 

 

Chapter 9: Honor Your Core Priorities

 

The goal of the WRAP process is not to neutralize emotion.  Quite the contrary.  When you strip away all the rational mechanics of decision making – the generation of options, the weighing of information – what’s left at the core is emotions.  What drives you?  What kind of person do you aspire to be?  What do you believe is best for your family in the long run?  (Business leaders ask: What kind of organization do you aspire to run?  What’s best for your team in the long run?)

 

Those are emotional questions – speaking to passions and values and beliefs – and when you answer them, there’s no “rational machine” underneath that is generating your perspective.  It’s just who you are and what you want.  The buck stops with emotion.

 

Maybe this advice sounds too commonsensical: Define and enshrine your core priorities.  It is not exactly a radical stance.  But there are two reasons why it’s uncommon to find people who have actually acted on this seemingly basic advice.  First, people rarely establish their priorities until they’re forced to.  Second, establishing priorities is not the same thing as binding yourself to them.  The problem is that urgencies – the most vivid and immediate circumstances – will always hog our spotlight.

 

 

Chapter Nine in One Page

Honor Your Core Priorities

 

  1. Quieting short-term emotion won’t always make a decision easy.

    • Even when Kim Ramirez’s initial excitement faded, she still agonized for weeks.

 

  1. Agonizing decisions are often a sign of a conflict among your core priorities.

    • Core priorities: long-term emotional values, goals, aspirations.  What kind of person do you want to be?  What kind of organization do you want to build?

    • The goal is not to eliminate emotion.  It’s to honor the emotions that count.

 

  1. By identifying and enshrining your core priorities, you make it easier to resolve present and future dilemmas.

    • At Interplant, recurring, nagging debates were settled when executives determined that the patient was the ultimate “customer.”

    • “Wayne’s Rules” allowed Dell’s field consultants to make decisions correctly and consistently.

 

  1. Establishing your core priorities is, unfortunately, not the same as binding yourself to them.

    • MIT study: Managers had done no work on their core priorities in the previous week!

 

  1. To carve out space to pursue our core priorities, we must go on the offense against lesser priorities.

    • On the USS Benfold, the crew actively fought the List B items like repainting (e.g., by using stainless-steel bolts that wouldn’t leave rust stains).

    • Jim Collins’s “stop-doing list”: What will you give up so that you have more time to spend on your priorities?

    • Bregman’s hourly beep: Am I doing what I most need to be doing now?

Prepare to be Wrong

 

Chapter 10: Bookend the Future

 

Overconfidence about the future disrupts our decisions.  It makes us lackadaisical about preparing for problems.  It tempts us to ignore early signs of failure.  It leaves us unprepared for pleasant surprises.

 

Fighting overconfidence means we’ve got to treat the future as a spectrum, not a point.  To bookend the future means that we must sweep our spotlights from side to side, charting out the full territory of possibilities.  Then we can stack the deck in our favor by preparing for both bad situations (via a premortem) and good (via a preparade).

 

 

Chapter Ten in One Page

Bookend the Future

 

  1. The future is not a “point” – a single scenario that we must predict.  It is a range.  We should bookend the future, considering a range of outcomes from very bad to very good.

    • Investor Penstock bet on Coinstar when his bookend analysis showed much more upside than downside.

    • Our predictions grow more accurate when we stretch our bookends outward.

 

  1. To prepare for the lower bookend, we need a premortem.  “It’s a year from now.  Our decision has failed utterly.  Why?

    • The 100,000 Homes Campaign avoided a legal threat by using a premortem-style analysis.

 

  1. To be ready for the upper bookend, we need a preparade.  “It’s a year from now.  We’re heroes.  Will we be ready for success?

    • The producer of Softsoap, hoping for a huge national launch, locked down the supply of plastic pumps for 18 to 24 months.

 

  1. To prepare for what can’t be foreseen, we can use a “safety factor.”

    • Elevator cables are made 11 times stronger than needed; software schedules include a “buffer factor.”

 

  1. Anticipating problems helps us cope with them.

    • The “realistic job preview”: Revealing a job’s warts up front “vaccinates” people against dissatisfaction.

    • Sandra rehearsed how she would ask her boss for a raise and what she’d say and do at various problem moments.

 

  1. By bookending – anticipating and preparing for both adversity and success – we stack the deck in favor of our decisions.

 

 

Chapter Eleven in One Page

Set a Tripwire

 

  1. In life, we naturally slip into autopilot, leaving past decisions unquestioned.

    • E.g., we’ve all been peeling bananas from the top.  Nothing ever compelled us to reconsider it.

 

  1. A tripwire can snap us awake and make us realize we have a choice.

    • Zappos’ $1,000 offer created a conscious fork in the road for new hires.

    • David Lee Roth’s brown M&Ms signaled that he needed to inspect the production.

 

  1. Tripwires can be especially useful when change is gradual.

    • Digital images killed Kodak; its executives could have used tripwires to spark a bolder response.

 

  1. For people stuck on autopilot, consider deadlines or partitions.

    • “Six months ago, you thought you’d have a recording contract by now.”

    • Partitions: Day laborers saved more when their pay was put in 10 envelops versus 1.

 

  1. We tend to escalate our investment in poor decisions; partitions can help rein that in.

    • E.g., “We won’t allocate more than $50,000 to jump-start this failing project.

 

  1. Tripwires can actually create a safe space for risk taking.  They: (1) cap risk; and (2) quiet your mind until the trigger is hit.

 

  1. Many powerful tripwires are triggered by patterns rather than dates/metrics/budgets.

    • Unexpected problems: A children’s hospital told nurses to call the rapid-response team if they were worried about a patient.

    • Peter Drucker: Be ready for “unexpected success.”

    • Rogaine scientists were savvy enough to spot the opportunity in back-hair growth.

 

  1. Tripwires can provide a precious realization: We have a choice to make.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 12: Trusting the Process

 

Most of our day-to-day decisions – which route to take to work, which sandwich to buy for lunch – are pretty effortless.  But the tough calls can take a toll.  For most of us who work in organizations, those touch calls are likely to be group decisions.

 

Throughout the book, we’ve discussed ways of nudging, prodding and inspiring groups to make better decisions: Seeking out one more option.  Finding someone else who’s solved our problem.  Asking, “What would have to be true for you to be right?”  Ooching as a way to dampen politics.  Making big decisions based on core priorities.  Running premortems and preparades.  Laying down tripwires.  Using these techniques will improve the results of your group decisions.

 

We should also address the aftermath of decisions, because most decisions come with at least a bit of “collateral damage” for those whose ideas weren’t accepted – anger, hurt feelings or loss of confidence in the new direction.  How can you ensure that a decision is seen as fair?

 

The WRAP process, if used routinely, will contribute to that sense of fairness, because it allow people to understand how the decision is being made and it gives them comfort that decisions will be made in a consistent manner.
 

 

Chapter Twelve in One Page

Trusting the Process

 

  1. Decisions made by groups have an additional burden: They must be seen as fair.

 

  1. “Bargaining” – horse-trading until all sides can live with the choice – makes for good decisions that will be seen as fair.  Bargaining yields buy-in.

    • Nutt: Bargaining always improved decision success; the effect was “dramatic.”

    • Bargaining will take more time up front – but it accelerated implementation.

 

  1. Procedural justice is critical in determining how people feel about a decision.

    • Court cases: Losers who perceive procedural justice are almost as happy as winners who don’t.

 

  1. We should make sure people are able to perceive that the process is just.

    • High-stakes mediator Mnookin: “I state back the other side’s position better than they could state it.”

    • Entrepreneur Hitz: “Sometimes the best way to defend a decision is to point out its flaws.”

 

 

  1. A trustworthy process can help us navigate even the thorniest decisions.

    • Matt D’Arrigo, the founder of ARTS, found a way to combine the need to serve local kids with his aspirations to make a national impact.

 

  1. “Process” isn’t glamorous.  But the confidence it can provide is precious.  Trusting a process can permit us to take bigger risks, to make bolder choices.  Studies of the elderly show that people regret not what they did but what they didn’t do.

 

 

 

 

 

Decisive

By Chip Heath & Dan Heath

ISBN-978-0-307-95639-2

 

 

 

About Gary Tomlinson: A distinguished consultant, Gary Tomlinson puts his lifelong learning and 45+ years of experience to work helping senior executives discover, apply and manage “execution.” Designed to bridge the huge gap between planning and implementation, Gary’s unique approach has helped guide many organizations on the journey to master execution as a competency.  As a founding member of the Keyne Institute, he employs the KeyneLink methodology to help clients successfully clarify and achieve their strategic objectives year after year.

 

You can engage Gary at gary@garyetomlinson.com. To read his other book reports
or book reviews visit his website at www.garyetomlinson.com.

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