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Those who have read one or more of Chip and Dan Heath's previously published books already know that they are master raconteurs as well as keen observers of human nature in general and of the business world in particular. I also view them as anthropologists whose scope and depth of knowledge enable them to create a multi-dimensional context for the information, insights, and counsel they provide. In this instance, as their latest book's subtitle correctly indicates, they share what they have learned about "how to make better choices in life and work."

All of those who read this book make several dozen (sometimes several hundred) decisions each week, most of which are based on past experience, custom, habit, etc. However, there are some decisions that are very challenging, perhaps even daunting. What to do? The heaths recommend and explain what they characterize as the WRAP process: Widen Your Opinions, Reality-Test Your Assumptions, Attain Distance Before Deciding, and Prepare to Be Wrong. "We want to make you a bit better at making good decisions, and we want to help you make good decisions a bit more decisively (with appropriate confidence, as opposed to overconfidence). We also want to make you a better adviser to your colleagues and loved ones who are making decisions, because it's usually easier to see other people's biases than your own." The Heaths succeed brilliantly in achieving those objectives.

They ensure that the insights they share are especially sticky by making skillful use of several reader-friendly devices that include a "Chapter X in One Page" section in Chapters 1-12. Also, three Clinics on decision making ("Should a Small Company Sue a Bigger Competitor?" "Should a young Professional Move to the City?" and "Should We Discount Our Software?", Pages 257-266), each a mini-case study based on real-world circumstances in which the material is provided within this format: Situation, Options, Process, Verification/Authentication, and Reflection/Evaluation. Readers will also appreciate the "Overcoming Obstacles" section following the Clinics in which the Heaths provide eleven Q&As (Pages 267-272) about the common roadblocks to using the WRAP process effectively as well as extensively annotated Endnotes (Pages 273-299) and

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to indicate the scope of coverage in the material. All of them explain one or more dimensions of the aforementioned process by which to "make better choices in life and work."

o How to collaborate to generate and consider options simultaneously (Pages 50-67)
o How to find someone who has solved the given problem (68-89)
o How to consider alternative, even opposite options (92-96)
o Roger Martin and the Copper Range negotiations salvaged by evidence-driven decision making (97-101)
o When and how to "construct small experiments to test one's hypothesis" (135-153)
o How to overcome short-term emotions (156-174)
o How to honor one's priorities (175-192)
o How to identify and prepare for probable outcomes of a decision that range from success to adversity (194-217)
o How to determine when to increase allocation of resources or cut losses? (218-238)
o How to earn and then sustain trust for a decision making process (239-253)
o How to overcome obstacles and resistance to a decision (267-272)

Recall Chip and Dan Heath's expressed hopes that the material they provide in this book will help their reader to achieve two objectives: to make better decisions, and, to help others to make better decisions. The key is to master each of the four steps of the WRAP process.

I presume to add two points of my own. First, although you'll never have too much of the best information, there are times when you have to make a decision based on what you do know. No process such as WRAP is infallible because no one who uses it is infallible. Expect to make mistakes and learn from them. Also, more often than not, if at all possible, when in doubt, DON'T. Making no decision is itself a decision. To repeat, if at all possible, continue the WRAP process: consider other options, test your assumptions more rigorously, create a wider/deeper context for the given decision, and finally, embrace each mistake as a precious learning opportunity.
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on 31 July 2013
If you are looking for a book that is on the deep theory behind decision science, computational methods or analytics then this probably is not for you.

However if you are looking for a text that could become a well thumbed guide to help you make better decisions or help others to make better decisions then this could be very helpful.

One of the few books that has a clearly defined process on how to make better decisions along with analysis about why we make poor decisions, based on well researched and current thinking from a wide range of fields. It brings together a whole collection of techniques & approaches under a very simple and memorable acronym of WRAP, For those who need more theory extensive end notes and bibliography could be very helpful in deeper searches. The authors intent is that more and more people make better decisions in work, life & society and after reading this book I think many will.

Only one negative for me...its so filled with content its a chunky book...but then maybe I need to make a better decision to buy a kindle.
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on 1 October 2013
I love this book! It is easy to understand and highlights a lot of traps we may fall into when it comes to decision making in our work and personal life. I would recommend this book to anybody who has had sleepless nights over trying to decide the right course of action in a particulate situation. This book will be invaluable to both business and personal life because when it comes to decision making we all want to to be in the best possible position to make the right one.
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on 25 November 2015
This book is not much different from several others on same topic. Here is a quick summary:

1. Widen your choice - always ask if there is any other choice which should be added to your shortlisted ones

2. Apply contrasting thoughts to your gut feeling - if you jumped to a conclusion about something based on your gut feeling, ask yourself whether you would still like if you make your "dislike" as like factor

3. Don't allow emotion to affect your decision - ask yourself what option would you choose if you are recommending to your friend (rather than buying for yourself)

4. Assuming you made a decision, try to figure out could be biggest risk for that choice and be prepared to counteract it if that risk indeed arises.
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"But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;" -- Isaiah 11:4 (NKJV)

I didn't run into the decision literature until the end of law school. My reaction was to think that this was the first time I'd learned anything practical since elementary school. I still feel that way.

Much of what has been written about making decisions is hard to follow, has too many graphs, employs too many unusual methods, and requires too much math. The Heath brothers break through those limitations to spell out the key lessons in simple language, explain what they mean with easy-to-understand examples, and provide things to avoid and do that are easy to implement correctly. If you get a little lost, the excellent one-page summaries at the end of each chapter will soon set you right.

I've decided to use this book in the future as the starting point for teaching my business students how to make better decisions. This book will bless them. I started applying the book with one student this last week, and I was delighted to see how much he gained from beginning to apply the directions.

The book is built around four typical problems with the way most people make decisions:

1. The first choice encountered is studied in terms of do or not do, rather than looking around for what better alternatives might exist. Instead, force yourself to widen your choices (with many suggestions for how to do so), study a variety of options at the same time to get a better feel for the issue, find successful examples and people who have already succeeded in finding and choosing a good option and learn from them.

2. Whatever is considered is colored by looking for evidence that confirms a "gut" feeling about what to do, rather than looking objectively. The Heath brothers suggest you apply reality tests by considering the opposite of what you first liked, be sure to understand what typical results are with different choices, and use small experiments to test your conclusions before deciding.

3. Strong emotions you happen to be feeling at the time sway you away from a better choice. Decisive recommends a number of techniques for creating more emotion-free space. One of the most interesting methods is simply to imagine what you would recommend that a friend do: We are more objective that way than in considering what's best for ourselves. In all circumstances, test the possible choices in terms of what you personal values and priorities are.

4. Having made a decision, we march forward as though it will be perfect. Wrong! The Heath brothers suggest you consider in advance what a mistake (missing an opportunity or taking on a new problem) can cost you (and let that influence your choice), prepare for the biggest risks, and set some rules for under what circumstances the choice will need to be abandoned or modified.

In doing all of this, we will be more successful by focusing on the process rather than the initial question.

Having given all that praise, let me add a few cautions.

First, this is an elementary book. Its advice for finding better alternatives is at the simplest end of how to go about doing so. Consequently, you probably won't find the best choices by using what's described here. You'll need to master some other skills and processes that uncover great choices that no one has done before.

Second, Decisive is a short and concentrated book. If you don't "get" an example, you may miss an important point. I know quite a lot about decision-making, and the material on bookending seemed overly dense to me, for instance. I suspect most people will be quite confused in that area.

Third, math can help. Like most popular books, Decisive avoids math ... probably more than is good for the reader. Decision-making involves more than just dealing with the psychological issues that are the book's focus.

Is there a better beginner book? I don't think so.

Nice work!
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on 5 September 2014
A very easy to read and humorous book which uses excellent real-world examples to highlight how you can make more of the opportunities (business or personal) you are presented with. All managers should read this book early in there career or even if they have just slipped into a rut.
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on 17 July 2014
The book is well written, and the process suggested is simple to understand, based on four steps, and it's full of common sense. There are several interesting cases, used to explain different techniques that are useful to make a better decision.
The main negative of this method, probably, is that our brain was not made to take complex decisions with multiple variables and many subjects.
Therefore, as the fourth step of the WRAP system suggests: "Prepare to be wrong".
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on 5 September 2014
Another great publication by the Heath brothers. Very useful insights that demonstrate why individuals and business leaders often make poor decisions and what we can do to address this. The Heath brothers have a rare combination of abilities that many other academics lack. Genuine and credible insight told with clarity, humour and conciseness. The one page summaries at the end of each section nicely encapsulate the most important bits.
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on 8 November 2014
Draws on decades of psychological research to attempt to explain how our supposedly rational brains are often over-taken by powerful biases and wishful thinking. Well presented material, and full of interesting (and potentially useful) ideas, but (surprising?) there was not greater explicit emphasis of the influence on our decision-making by the whole subject of values and ‘the search for meaning'.
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on 23 July 2015
Good examples which were not overly extensive. Clear indications of what you ought to do in any decision process. Coupled with Switch, their older book, you have a powerful recipe for ensuring you will make changes in life/company, and good changes at that.
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