Authors of "Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work"In the last week, I recommended the book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, over six times. That may not seem like a lot, but as I look at that now, I recognize that six people in my life were making decisions and would be massively helped by what the Heath brothers speak about in their wonderful, new and third book.

They are experts at creating sticky ideas. Their sticky idea in this book is represented in what they call WRAP:

  • Widen Your Options
  • Reality Test Your Assumptions
  • Attain Distance Before Deciding
  • Prepare to be Wrong

Here are some of my favorite parts of the book that I earmarked:

Widen Your Options

In this story they compare two studies: one by Baruch Fischhoff who studied teenagers making decisions and this AMAZING statistic gathered by a researcher by the name of Paul Nutt.

“A 1993 study by Nutt which analyzed 168 decisions in this laborious way, came to a stunning conclusion: Of the teams he studied, only 29% considered more than one alternative. By way of comparison, 30% of the teens in the Fischhoff study considered more than one alternative. According to Paul Nutts’ research, then, most organizations seem to be using the same decision process as a hormone-crazed teenager.

 Reality Test Your Assumptions

This is a story about hiring, one of my favorite subjects.

“Imagine if the US Olympic track coach used two tests in selecting the men who’d run on the relay team. Test 1: Get the man on the track and see how fast he runs. And test 2: Meet him in a conference room and see if he answers the questions like a fast runner would. Note that most of corporate America, our hiring process looks more like test 2 than test one. Let’s all slap our head in unison.

Research has shown that interviews are less predictive of job performance that work samples, job knowledge tests, and peer ratings of past job performance. Even a simple intelligence test is substantially more predictive than an interview.”

Attain Distance Before Deciding

In a story about corporate decision processing namely at Dell, they clarify this conclusion about the difference between generic values and core priorities. Their point being that being specific helps decision making.

“Unfortunately the top executives of most organizations have chosen to retreat behind vague endorsements of values like ‘diversity,’ ‘trust,’ ‘integrity’ and so on (thus taking a bold stand against the haters of integrity!). Only in the most extreme cases are these values sufficient to tip a decision.

That’s why it’s so important to enshrine core priorities, not just cheerlead for generic values. Even the cash register guy at Hot Dog on a Stick will routinely encounter conflicts among priorities. If a customer drops a hot dog, should he offer a free replacement? (Is his top duty to ensure that the customer is satisfied or that the owner is profitable?) Without clear priorities to draw on, the decision will be made idiosyncratically, depending on the employee’s mood at the moment. While we can probably tolerate some randomness when it comes to fumbled hot dogs, alignment is critical in other situations.”

Lastly, Prepare to be Wrong

They support and prove that process is more important than the outcome. People really do want to be heard.

“The procedural-justice research shows that people care deeply about process. We all want to believe that a decision process that affects us is fair, that it is taking into account all of the right information. Even if the outcome goes against us, our confidence in the process it critical. Individual decisions will frequently be wrong but the right process will be an ally in any situation.”


You can buy the book here. And you can listen to Dan Pink Interview the Heath Bros about their book on his podcast, too.
These, my friends, are highly recommended.


Ruth Schwartz

Ruth Schwartz is the author of "The Key to the Golden Handcuffs". She is a high performance business consultant and leadership coach. Connect with Ruth to participate in the conversation. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube .