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Judgment Calls: Twelve Stories of Big Decisions and the Teams That Got Them Right [Kindle Edition]

Thomas H. Davenport , Brook Manville , Laurence Prusak
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Your guide to making better decisions

Despite the dizzying amount of data at our disposal today—and an increasing reliance on analytics to make the majority of our decisions—many of our most critical choices still come down to human judgment. This fact is fundamental to organizations whose leaders must often make crucial decisions: to do this they need the best available insights.

In Judgment Calls, authors Tom Davenport and Brook Manville share twelve stories of organizations that have successfully tapped their data assets, diverse perspectives, and deep knowledge to build an organizational decision-making capability—a competence they say can make the difference between success and failure. This book introduces a model that taps the collective judgment of an organization so that the right decisions are made, and the entire organization profits.

Through the stories in Judgment Calls, the authors—both of them seasoned management thinkers and advisers—make the case for the wisdom of organizations and suggest ways to use it to best advantage. Each chapter tells a unique story of one dilemma and its ultimate resolution, bringing into high relief one key to the power of collective judgment. Individually, these stories inspire and instruct; together, they form a model for building an organizational capacity for broadly based, knowledge-intensive decision making.

You’ve read The Wisdom of Crowds and Competing on Analytics. Now read Judgment Calls. You, and your organization, will make better decisions.


Product Description

Review

"provides a convincing illustration...laying out a usable model...in the area of collaborative decision making." -- CIO Digest "Judgment Calls makes a strong effort to raise decision making into less of an individual basis and more of a cultural practice within a team. It makes a solid follow up to analytic books such as Jim Sterne's Social Media Metrics, Performance Marketing with Google Analytics, and of course, one of Davenport's earlier books Analytics at Work." -- Small Business Trends (smallbiztrends.com) "Judgment Calls is driven by the 12 stories, each of which ends with reflections on how the organization successfully made the decision. "...it does offer ideas for judgment calls at your own workplace." -- The Globe & Mail "It is...wonderful to have Judgment Calls: Twelve Stories of Big Decisions and the Teams That Got Them Right by Thomas H. Davenport and Brook Manville with twelve magnificently diverse parables of instances where good judgment was exercised and an organization "got it right" -- Forbes.com Selected as one of "PW's Top 10: Business Books." -- Publisher's Weekly "Those who have the opportunity to re-shape any organization of any size, the way it works and develops, and the way people lead and can be led more effectively will find great ideas and encouragement in this book. It is worth reading and re-reading." -- HR Zone ADVANCE PRAISE for Judgment Calls: "By integrating the lessons of twelve momentous decisions with a freshly imaginative perspective, Judgment Calls is a foundational contribution to the art and science of decision making." -- Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, University of Southern California; author, Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership How leaders and organizations approach decision-making is one of the most critical variables to succeeding. Judgment Calls is a must read for anyone that wants to ensure that their organization is using effective decision-making as strategic and competitive advantage. -- Allan C. Golston, President, U.S. Program, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation "Tom Davenport and Brook Manville have brilliantly written a collection of stories that provide both the proof and the guidance needed for organizations to make better decisions that depend on the skills, knowledge, and judgments of groups, rather than the oversold myth of individual heroics, which is ill suited for our ambiguous and fast-changing world." -- Douglas K. Smith, coauthor, The Wisdom of Teams and The Discipline of Teams "Judgment Calls illustrates how nurturing an analytics culture improves organizational judgment and translates into better outcomes. Every leader can benefit from the 'iterative, deliberative decision processes' highlighted in the case studies. Combining analytical insights and stories of collaboration among executives, engineers, marketers, partners, and customers, this book provides a winning formula for making more creative and innovative decisions." -- Jim Davis, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, SAS; coauthor, Information Revolution: Using the Information Evolution Model to Grow Your Business "This is a book that stands up to common sense, while breaking through the age-old image of hero decision makers. In story after story, the authors show how great decisions in a wide range of industry situations have required and benefited from many perspectives and iterations over extended periods of time." -- Jon R. Katzenbach, Senior Partner, Booz & Company "At last! A business book that's smart and great fun to read. Every leader--especially aspiring leaders--needs to read this book." -- Alan M. Webber, cofounder, Fast Company; author, Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self

About the Author

Thomas H. Davenport is a leading management thinker and a professor at Babson College. He is the author of eleven books, including Competing on Analytics. He lives in Dover, Massachusetts, USA. Brook Manville is an independent consultant, and has previously served as CLO for Saba Software and the United Way of America. He was also formerly the chief knowledge officer at McKinsey & Company. He lives in Bethseda, Maryland, USA.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 523 KB
  • Print Length: 280 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 142215811X
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (13 Mar. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007BOBZ5C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #495,207 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
To introduce this review, I call upon Peter Drucker: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." How to make the best decisions? Enter Thomas Davenport and Brooke Manville. In their book, Judgment Calls, they explain how and why decisions made by a Great Organization tend to be much better than those made by a Great Leader. Why? While conducting rigorous and extensive research over a period of many years, they discovered - as Laurence Prusak notes in the Foreword -- "that no one was looking into the workings of what we term [begin italics] organizational judgment [end italics] - the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader's direct control."

The mistake to which Drucker refers is much less likely to occur when organizational judgment is centrally involved in a decision-making process. My own opinion is that this process resembles a crucible of intensive scrutiny by several well-qualified persons. Moreover, the eventual decision is the result of what Roger Martin characterizes, in The Opposable Mind, as "integrative thinking." That is, each of those involved has "the predisposition and the capacity to hold two [or more] diametrically opposed ideas" in mind and then "without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other," helps to "produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea."

Organizational judgment must not only be discerned but also managed. And precautions should be taken to ensure, as Prusak notes, "that the courses of action taken by organizations are more grounded in reality and a shared sense of what is right.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Many executives make decisions without consulting experts, weighing facts, considering options or engaging in thoughtful analysis. They trust their intuition and act accordingly. Such decisions often prove ruinous. Knowledge management experts Thomas H. Davenport and Brook Manville propose an alternative decision-making process - "organizational judgment" - that relies on the collective wisdom, expertise and reasoning of well-informed, collaborative groups. The authors cite case studies of varying strength (some really intriguing and useful; some perhaps not quite as piercing) to illustrate how organizational judgment proves far superior to the "golden guts" of prominent individuals who are subject to the same cognitive biases as everyone else. getAbstract recommends this perceptive analysis to all decision makers and organizational leaders.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better judgment through participative decision making 22 Mar. 2012
By John Gibbs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Human judgment is frail and fettered, no matter which humans the judgment comes from, according to Thomas Davenport and Brook Manville in this book. The antidote to relying on the imperfect judgment of one fallible person is for organisations to build decision-making capacity, tapping into the expertise of a broad range of people.

Rather than using empirical research, the authors use stories from 12 different organisations to illustrate their thesis. Part One contains stories about participative problem solving processes from NASA, a home-building company, and McKinsey & Company. Part Two contains stories about the use of technology and analytics to aid decision making, from a health-care organisation, a technology company and a school system. Part Three contains stories about organisational culture guiding decision-making, from ancient Athens, the Vanguard Group, and EMC. Part Four has stories about leaders with participative decision-making styles, from a media company, a philanthropic organisation and a niche product company.

It may well be a lot more difficult to make an interesting story out of a participative decision-making process than out of a decision made by a lone hero, but I personally found some of the stories unconvincing. For example, the NASA story relates to a decision with a positive outcome, contrasting with earlier NASA decisions with disastrous outcomes. However, the bad and good decisions all seem to have been reached through participative processes; the difference seems to be more in the weight given to different opinions than in the participative nature of the processes. On the other hand, I found the stories about strong organisational culture and participative leadership styles both more interesting and more persuasive.

There are various objections that could be made to the authors' thesis. It would be useful to see some sort of empirical evidence. Some decisions are clearly better because of a consultative process, but others are clearly worse, either because of groupthink or because an individual decision maker knows better than anyone else (e.g. Steve Jobs and the iPad). The high cost of participative decision processes can outweigh the benefits; for example, the Athenian style of democracy in which every man got to vote has long since been abandoned as impractical.

Notwithstanding these objections, in my opinion there is a lot of merit in the ideas raised by the authors, and the book provides a useful challenge to the thinking of organisational leaders.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative and engaging guide to tapping into organizational judgement 25 Mar. 2012
By Mark P. McDonald - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Judgement Calls is the new book by Tom Davenport and Brook Manville takes on the fundamental issues of how organizations are applying judgement, collaboration, and participatory decision making into their organizations. Davenport and Manville present their argument in the form of stories surrounding major decisions at the organizational, cultural and individual level. Their approach is ideal for capturing the qualitative difference in making group judgments. The authors see this as the fourth era of thinking about organizational decision making and one in which the importance of judgement is acknowledged.

The authors see four major trends in play for exercising organizational judgement. First is the recognition that none of us is as smart as all of us. The second is that you need to tap into both the wisdom and leadership of the crowd. Data and analytics remains important. Finally that information technology is an enabled of the increased participation and analytical decision support required for organizational judgement.

The book is recommended for executives and managers seeking to understand, internalize and perhaps adopt this more collaborative style of decision making.

Davenport and Manville use stories to illustrate the central elements they have observed for effective group decision making. These involve aspects of information, knowledge management and decision making processes. The book contains a wide range of stories from modern high tech companies like EMC and Cognizant to historic organizational decisions made in Athens, and public sector/service cases from the Charlotte - Mecklenburg school district to the Wallace foundation. The range, depth, and detail contained in these stories gives the reader a complete, informative and nuanced view of the challenges associated in exercising organizational judgement.

Strengths

A thoughtful and comprehensive treatment of the issues associated with creating, executing and sustaining organizational judgement. The topic is perhaps one of the most complex, contextual, culturally sensitive and socio-technical activities within an organization. Davenport and Manville recognize this and rather than trying to 'boil the ocean' and reduce reality into simple prescriptions they provide a diverse set of stories and situations that enable the reader to get a sense for the power and differences associated with organizational judgement.

The stories are illustrative, easy to read and focus on the major points that mater in organizational judgement. The diversity of industries, situations, results and outcomes capture the range of applications of organizational judgement. I found the stories about Ancient Athens, EMC, WGB Homes, McKinsey and Media General to be particularly helpful.

The concepts go beyond simple ideas normally associated with decision making and leadership. The book covers issues like experience, knowledge, information and organizational structure as factors rather than a silver bullet answer. This will leave proponents of the 'great leader' model of decision making looking for more. If you are looking for simple answers, recipes, twelve step processes, etc you will need to look elsewhere.

Challenges

By providing illustrative stories, the reader needs to work a little harder to internalize the ideas and messages found in the book's stories. This book requires active reading and consideration of the ideas and experiences of others and how they apply to you.

Fans of management and leadership books will draw the conclusions that this book is relatively lightweight. The topic of organizational judgment challenges broadly accepted ideas of responsibility and resource control. They will be looking for more heavyweight analysis to change their mind - which is contained in the stories but not presented like other business books.

Fans of Davenport's prior books on analytics and business processes will find this book light on these subject areas. The book discusses many of the organizational parameters of a successful Social Organization and the EMC story provides good details, but this is book is not about social media, analytics, or other technologies. It is about how to you create a more collaborative workplace, and take advantage of the power of organizational judgement. These factors involve technology, but they are not delineated by technology.

The book's tone and prose sits between the popular non-fiction / journalism style of Gladwell and Friedman and the business / academic style of other business books. The authors have deliberately tried to write in a more journalistic style and they have largely succeeded in creating a book that is more accessible, descriptive and engaging.

Overall, the book is refreshing, engaging and helpful discussion of how leaders are gaining an edge through tapping into the judgement of the entire organization.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Insider details but flawed analysis 26 Mar. 2013
By Nathan Ives - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Judgment Calls by Thomas H. Davenport and Brook Manville examines twelve mission critical decisions made by public and private organizations for the key aspects of the decision process employed and analytical approaches used. Through this exploration, Thomas and Brook discuss organizational factors influencing successful decision-making including:

- Participative Problem-Solving Processes
- Technology and Analytics
- Power and Culture
- Leaders Setting the Right Context

They assert that effective employment of these factors enhances organizational judgment and therefore its decision-making capability. The twelve detailed examples within their book serve as a roadmap for those seeking to further develop their organization's decision-making ability.

I believe in the inherent value of reading books, such as Judgment Calls, that provide deep insights to the decision-making processes of respected organizations during critical situations. Thomas and Brook obviously had access to the senior leaders at each organization profiled; enabling them to garner the though processes and reasoning behind the decisions being made.

Valuable as it may be, I believe there are flaws in Thomas and Brook's approach to ascertaining the key factors behind successful decisions. Most prevalent among these flaws is an apparent assumption that successful outcomes were the result of a sound decision-making approach and the correction of the organization's past decision-making shortfalls; not the result, in part or whole, of good fortune or luck. (Note that Thomas and Brook did examine some failed decisions of examined organizations, however, I found those reviews to be incomplete when compared with StrategyDriven`s analysis.) I would have liked to have seen additional testing whereby the processes leading to successful decisions were tested against decision-making shortcomings observed in other organizations. In my experience, organizations may experience a series of successful decision outcomes because circumstances that would otherwise challenge their area of vulnerability are not manifest. When such a circumstance does arise, the organization's decision process fails to recognize or appropriately deal with it leading to an adverse outcome.

I have studied high-risk decisions - both the successes and the failures - made by organizations such as NASA and nuclear utilities around the world; identifying principles and practices to be embraced and those to be avoided. Indeed, I co-authored the standards by which the U.S. nuclear industry processes its high-risk decisions. While I agree with the four organizational factors associated with successful decision-making as outlined in Judgment Calls, I believe there are many others demanding close attention in order to consistently achieve desired outcomes. My insights to high-risk decision management can be found in StrategyDriven's Decision-Making topic area.

While I believe the approach taken to draw the conclusions contained within Judgment Calls to be flaw, the book offers otherwise inaccessible insight into the decision-making processes of respected organizations making it a StrategyDriven recommended read.

All the Best,
Nathan Ives
StrategyDriven Principal
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why to take full and systematic advantage of technology and analytics to create deeper and more sustainable judgment 18 April 2012
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
To introduce this review, I call upon Peter Drucker: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." How to make the best decisions? Enter Thomas Davenport and Brooke Manville. In their book, Judgment Calls, they explain how and why decisions made by a Great Organization tend to be much better than those made by a Great Leader. Why? While conducting rigorous and extensive research over a period of many years, they discovered - as Laurence Prusak notes in the Foreword -- "that no one was looking into the workings of what we term [begin italics] organizational judgment [end italics] - the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader's direct control."

The mistake to which Drucker refers is much less likely to occur when organizational judgment is centrally involved in a decision-making process. My own opinion is that this process resembles a crucible of intensive scrutiny by several well-qualified persons. Moreover, the eventual decision is the result of what Roger Martin characterizes, in The Opposable Mind, as "integrative thinking." That is, each of those involved has "the predisposition and the capacity to hold two [or more] diametrically opposed ideas" in mind and then "without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other," helps to "produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea."

Organizational judgment must not only be discerned but also managed. And precautions should be taken to ensure, as Prusak notes, "that the courses of action taken by organizations are more grounded in reality and a shared sense of what is right." In recent years, the rapid emergence and development of social media enable organizations to become even more grounded in what has become an expanded reality. Only through an open and inclusive collaborative process can the use of social media enable any organization to tap the collective genius of its stakeholder constituencies.

In this brilliant volume, Davenport and Manville rigorously examine "12 stories of big decisions and the teams that get them right." However different the nature and extent of the circumstances as well as of implications and potential consequences of the given decision may be, all twelve followed essentially the same process, one that takes into full account four separate but related trends:

o The recognition that "none of us is as smart as all of us"
o Tapping not only the so-called wisdom of the crowd but also its leadership
o The use of data and analytics to support - sometimes even make - decisions
o Information technology that enables and then supports better decisions

Shrewdly, Davenport and Manville focus on an exceptionally diverse group and the major decisions to be made. They include NASA STS-119 "Should we launch?"), McKinsey & Company ("Should we recruit from a different pool of talent?"), Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools ("How can we improve student performance?"), Ancient Athenians (How can we defend against a life-or-death invasion?"), and the (DeWitt and Lila) Wallace Foundation ("How can we focus a strategy for more mission impact?"). These mini-case studies achieve two critically important objectives. First, they help the reader to understand how each of the major decisions was made? Also, they help the reader to understand what lessons can be learned from the [begin italics] process [end italics] by which the decisions were made.

No organization ever has too many great men and great women. Indeed, few have any. However, I agree with Davenport and Manville that all organizations can establish and then constantly improve a collaborate process by which organizational judgment produces a much higher percentage of appropriate decisions. This does not require a Great Leader. Rather, it requires development of collective leadership (i.e. results-driven initiative) at all levels and in all areas. It also requires constant communication, cooperation, and (especially) collaboration. These are among the defining characteristics of a Great Organization.

With their book, Tom Davenport and Brook Manville will help you and your colleagues to build one.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Build a "Great Organization" 26 April 2012
By Veritas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"It is only in our decisions that we are important," said Jean-Paul Sartre. While he was speaking of personal decisions, the same may be said of organizational decisions. Or can it? In Tom Davenport and Brooke Manville's "Judgment Calls," they make a compelling argument that decisions made by what they call a "Great Organization" are generally superior to decisions made by a "Great Leader." Through an examination of twelve case studies, they demonstrate that this has held true across a highly diverse set of organizations, ranging from a government agency (NASA), to a storied management consultancy (McKinsey & Company), to a school (the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School), to a charitable organization (the Wallace Foundation), to even an ancient civilization (the Ancient Athenians). What do they all have in common? Simply put, that organizations are much more likely to make great decisions when they have in place an inclusive process that allows for sound (and informed) organizational judgment (rather than simply rely on a "Great Leader"). The authors (as well as Larry Prusak in the Foreward) aren't postulating this as a simple panacea to decision-making. Indeed, they offer precautions including that big decisions be well-grounded in thorough and accurate data; that organizations still need great talent and great leaders; and that the right process (enabled by information technology) is absolutely critical.

At a time when business seems preoccupied with the "cult of Steve Jobs" (though there is no denying his genius) and the current zeitgeist of "Big Data" (the combination of which some may say is an interesting "contradiction"), Davenport and Manville have done business a laudable service of explaining all of the critical elements of creating a "Great Organization." And who doesn't want to build one of those?
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