Tools and a Process For Making Decisions
As everyone says, "Work smarter, not harder." In Winning Decisions: Getting It Right the First Time, authors J. Edward Russo & Paul J.H. Schoemaker, two experts and professors in the field of decision making, provide a direct route to working smarter. This path is readily accessible, well-developed with pertinent studies and research, and ready to be applied to any business or decision. As consultants to many of the world's largest corporations, these two decision-making explorers reveal a detailed map of the decision-making process, and offer many tools to help decision makers choose the best choice more easily and more quickly than ever before.
The Problem of Overconfidence
The authors take readers away from reliance upon luck, intuition and common sense as the only tools in the decision-making toolbox, and offer a more efficient process to get to the best decision.
Their research reveals the deceptive nature of overconfidence, and presents strategies to overcome it by recognizing the ways we overestimate our own knowledge.
The authors show how we often define our problems in ways that cause us to overlook our best options, or fail to collect key factual information because of overconfidence in our own judgments. To avoid these traps, the authors offer many field-tested strategies.
The research they cite comes from a field called "behavioral decision research": academic research that looks at how real people make real decisions. Taking the best lessons from academic journals and textbooks and placing them into a format for lay people, the authors focus on ways readers can apply these solutions and tools to their decision making.
Russo and Schoemaker also use strategies gathered from their more than 25 years of experience of working with executives, managers, MBA students and other professionals. This experience has been boiled down to a four-stage process that provides a broad framework from which any decision can be faced.
The first phase of the book delves into "decision framing," a process that examines the "mental structures that simplify and guide our understanding of a complex reality." Although these frames are incomplete and biased, the ways we frame problems exert control over the options we recognize and the solutions we choose. After examining the power of frames and the perceptions they influence, the authors describe ways to effectively create winning frames by exerting conscious control over our frames instead of being controlled by them. This involves noticing and evaluating them before they blind us to the real significance of a situation.
The next step to better decision making is gathering information while avoiding distortion, bias, undue optimism and unmanaged overconfidence.
To get the best information before a decision is made, the authors suggest readers ask disconfirming questions, entertain and test multiple hypotheses, engage in contrary analysis, and assess other people's credibility. This intelligence gathering will help to overcome the uncertainty that accompanies every decision.
Coming to Conclusions
When your best options have been selected, it is time to come to a conclusion using all of this intelligence. The authors offer several "choosing techniques" and decision tools to help readers get the best results. The pros and cons of intuition, rules, decision weighing and value analysis are discussed in detail.
Learning from Experience
The last section in Winning Decisions is about learning from experience and using knowledgeable hindsight to influence future decisions. Looking at what happened and why it happened is a continuing process that will strengthen decision-making skills and improve chances for future success.
Why Soundview Likes This Book
Winning Decisions is packed with many useful insights and lessons that shed new light on the decision-making process, without becoming bogged down in the technical jargon of the scientific world from which many of its lessons are borrowed. Its clarity makes it an easy read while its dense contents offer many noteworthy points that can be directly applied to any organization. The handy layout of the book facilitates retrieval of salient points and its graphics are few and easy to interpret. The authors' step-by-step process toward decision making charts the dynamics of their topic with intelligence and practicality and can take any reader to a realm where better decisions are commonplace.