Our success in life and business is the sum total of all the decisions we make. We all want to make better, faster decisions that keep us moving in the right direction. Yet we are often notoriously bad at making decisions. We often struggle with this in both our personal and professional lives.
- Forty-one percent of first marriages end in divorce (it used to be 50%).
- Forty-four percent of lawyers would not recommend a career in law to young people.
- Eighty-three percent of corporate mergers and acquisitions fail to create any value for shareholders.
Enter bestselling authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath. You may recognize them as the authors of Switch, How to Change Things When Change is Hard. “When it comes to making decisions, it’s clear that our brains are flawed instruments.” Whether we rely on complex analysis or gut reactions, the results are about the same.
Being aware of these shortcomings doesn’t fix the problem; any more than knowing that we are farsighted helps us to see. The real question is: How can we improve and do better?
The Heath brothers have written a new book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. The Heath’s research identifies a set of biases in our thinking that dooms the pros and cons model of decision-making. They call these biases “villains”. If we want to make better choices, first and foremost we must understand the problem. Here are the “four villains” or biases, when it comes to making decisions:
- Narrow focus. We are guilty of “spotlight thinking.” We focus on the obvious and visible. We miss important facts outside our immediate view.
- Confirmation bias. We develop a quick belief about something and then seek out information that confirms that belief.
- Short-term emotion. We are too emotionally connected to the decision and struggle with being appropriately detached.
- Overconfidence. We assume that we know more than we actually do know and jump to conclusions, thinking we can accurately predict the future.
The great value of the book is that it lays out a decision-making process that can be used in any situation, business or personal life. It is designed to counteract the influence of the four villains and consists of four steps:
- Widen your options.
- Reality-test your assumptions.
- Attain distance before deciding.
- Prepare to be wrong.
Chip and Heath refer to this as the WRAP Process (the acronym from the first letter of each step). These four steps are sequential. And the more you employ this process, the better you get at it. With enough practice, it becomes second nature.
The Heath brothers fill Decisive with crisp and memorable anecdotes that illustrate all the principles. The book offers fresh strategies and tools for making better choices along with a new perspective.
I recommend that you have your leadership team read Decisive and then discuss it at your next regular monthly meeting (you do have one don’t you?).
Better decisions! I can’t imagine anything that could impact the quality of your lives and businesses more than making better decisions.
Contact me for help making better, faster decisions in your business!
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