9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 19 September 2003
A rather grandiose title, but I think the subtitle is more apt for what this book explains. This book looks at a wide variety of case studies from how tank commanders operate in combat situations to how expert fire fighters are effective. The book explores how experts learn and adapt to situations quicker than novices, the effect of pressure on people’s ability to make decisions and how they go about making those decisions, the best methods for learning and conveying knowledge and minimum information people need to effectively carry out orders.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 25 January 1999
Gary Klein is something of a guru in the decision making research field but with this book, he makes his ideas available to a broader audience. My research is in the emergency decisions Fire Officers have to make and I have found operational command trainers find this book more useful than any other available at the moment. At the same time the interested observer will find the examples fascinating.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 1999
Although I am not a professional in this area, I have had many experiences that required me to learn how people make decisions. This book goes a long way toward explaining these processes and provides plenty of examples to learn from. Not only does Gary Klein present his results, he covers how the data were obtained, its analysis, his assumptions, and how the conclusions were reached. It provides great insight into one's own thinking and decision making process. I was truly amazed at how readable this book was and how thoroughly real life examples were analyzed. I would recommend it to anyone in any field.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Gary Klein is a cognitive psychologist who has "gone native," shifting his focus from the laboratory to the messy world of firefighters, tank commanders, and other naturalistic decision makers. Their work environments are defined by "...time pressure, high stakes, experienced decision makers, inadequate information, ill-defined goals, poorly defined procedures, cue learning, context, dynamic conditions, and team coordination." Instead of cataloging their errors, Klein has identified the mental capabilities that help them succeed. His book presents these "sources of power" for our consideration.
These sources of power include:
- Intuition depends on the use of experience to recognize key patterns.
- Mental simulation is the ability to imagine people and objects through transformations.
- Spotting leverage points means spotting small changes that can make a big difference.
- Experience can be used to focus attention on key features that novices don't notice.
- Stories bring natural order to unstructured situations and emphasize what is important.
- Metaphors apply familiar experiences to new situations to suggest solutions.
- Communicating intentions in a team helps members "read each other's minds."
- Effective teams evolve a "team mind" with shared knowledge, goals, and identity.
- Rational analysis plays an important role, but can be over applied.
The author spends some time with other theories of decision making, emphasizing both their strengths and the sometimes faulty assumptions they incorporate. He makes good points about the inadequacy of decision bias theories to explain successful, real-world decision processes. Klein describes how artificial intelligence and other computational theories reduce decision making to a search through a well-defined set of alternatives. Most decisions, he argues, are not so well structured.
Klein likes to stay close to his data. The book reflects this in the space given to detailed decision making examples he has used to develop and test his theories. In addition to a traditional Table of Contents and lists of Tables and Figures, there is also a list of fifty-two Examples, allowing readers quick access to these cases. Klein also links his theories back to decision making contexts he expects readers to encounter. Each chapter ends with an Applications section that identifies practical implications for decisions out there in the world.
This is a thought-provoking book, grounded in both applied research and practical experience. It is profitable reading for anyone who strives to make better decisions.
on 5 January 2013
This book is based on close study of real decision making, such as by firefighters, medical staffs, and military commanders. Thanks to its naturalistic-anthropological approach, Klein's work is much more significant than most of the studies of experimental decision psychology in quasi-laboratory conditions, for instance on rather simple choices facing probabilistic uncertainty -- which reveal heuristics and biases that are interesting, but of narrow significance.
Instead of the conclusions on human "irrationality" arrived at by simplistic experiments, this book demonstrates that experience-based expertize achieves high quality decision skills, partly on tacit levels. These include, for instance, recognition-primed decision making, mental simulation, and making sense of complex situations by building fitting "stories, metaphors and analogues, though a number of error propensities must be guarded against.
The findings must in part be taken with caution, as they are based on oral reporting by actors on what they are thinking, which is not very reliable as recognized by the author (e.g. p. 291). But, all in all, this is a very important book providing findings and models of profound importance for all dealing with series of choices enabling development of expertize.
However, from my concerns with high-level policy making and criticl political judgment the book is of little help, as recognized by the author (e.g. p. 282, though not adequately discussed. Thus, to take the Cuban Missile Crisis, public health policies, choices on energy sources, or the Arab-Israeli conflict, with their singular features and radical uncertainties, little in the book is relevant. Even less so is it applicable to fully novel issues, such as coping with the unprecedented opportunities and dangers provided by science and technology, such as human enhancement, mass-killing materials, and obsolescence of standard employment patterns. All these require new decision making paradigms, based on some combination between in-depth study of historic future-weaving choices, more adequate understanding of human minds, and novel conceptions of "high-quality judgment" viewed inter alia as fuzzy gambling for high stakes. This is beyond the book.
Professor Yehezkel Dror
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 1998
If you have worked in the decision support arena for as many years as I have, it is immensely useful to see the traditional, deliberate, compare-all-options approach of decision making contrasted with the process that experienced decision makers seem to follow. Klein provides numerous examples of this in his book.
on 15 March 2011
A must read for managers and people that want to understand how decisions are taken under pressure.
This book deals with real decision making drawing examples from firefighters, chessmasters, soldiers, etc. It shows how decisions are taken under pressure and highlights the typical tools to decide like mental simulation and others.
The author uses a very scientific approach to explain his framework.
The beginning of the book is a bit boring, but the book is very solid and very well structured. I appreciate in particular the mix of theory and very concrete and simple examples that makes this book very practical.
on 17 August 2013
A very good book detailing how various people make decisions. I bought this gift for my dad who owns a small business. He really likes it and uses it as a guidebook on how to make future business decisions.
I am no business guy but I read a few chapters of it and it is well written and has great insight. Worth reading it.
on 14 March 2012
great book must read for anyone looking at naturalistic decision making and RPD model. this book covers this topic very well, is the No.1 book i used!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In this original, honest and sometimes amusing book Gary Klein studied expert decision makers, such as firefighters, soldiers and chess masters, who operate under highly challenging conditions. He shares his early assumptions about how they made decisions, but his research reveals that his initial theories were wrong. He has learned what good decision making requires and shares that expertise in tightly focused chapters rich with examples. getAbstract recommends this book to anyone interested in decision making, and especially to those who make high-stakes determinations under dynamic conditions: leaders, strategists, futurists, investors and businesspeople.