4 Things Which Cripple Decision Making












Chip and Dan Heath have done it again. After the success of Made to Stick and Switch, they’ve written a another great book entitled Decisive. As the title suggests it’s all about how to make good decisions. You might think that’s not too difficult a task to anyone with more than a modicum of common sense. But as Chip and Dan open up the topic you quickly realise the number of ways in which our decision making can become clouded. They give four villains of decision making as follows:

  1. “Narrow-framing” . . . where we unnecessarily cut down the number of possible choices or solutions, focusing on the obvious or visible.
  2. “Confirmation bias” . . . where we jump to an early conclusion and then only listen to the evidence that supports the conclusion we were already hoping for.
  3. “Short term emotion” . . . where our desire to avoid pain means we make a decision that may be easier in the short term, but will cause more pain in the long term.
  4. “Overconfidence” . . . you know you’re right so press on regardless of other opinion or evidence.

So, perhaps unsurprisingly, Chip and Dan’s solution to these problems runs as follows:

  1. Widen the options . . . broaden the net, research, listen to a variety of opinions
  2. Reality test your assumptions . . . Think clearly and honestly about the pros and cons of various solutions. Deliberately employ a ‘devil’s advocate’ step for each scenario.
  3. Attain distance and perspective . . . space and time are required for big decisions. Don’t rush the process
  4. Prepare to be wrong . . . plan for an uncertain future; you may have to revisit the issue again. That’s better than setting something in stone and refusing to reconsider.

Which, rather neatly, makes the acronym WRAP – easy to remember, perhaps much harder to practise!


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