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Duke provides decent tactics and approaches to problem solving, which she calls decision-making (but it's really problem solving.) Why make a decision unless you perceive you have a problem to solve? There is nothing new here, and I would expect anyone buying this book has probably already read the classics in the field of problem solving, including Senge's 5th Discipline and his Fieldbook (recommended), along with any of the writers in the CQI/TQM field including Deming, Juran, and Crosby. Duke also borrows heavily from well published personal skills topics, from REBT to assertiveness and esteem research findings. I'm not saying she's simply rehashing things, as she puts her own perspective and recombination on these older models. But, she's not saying anything truly new, and I find that the original writers and their works made their cases both more clearly and more applicable to broader situations, such as organizational, leadership, systemic, and adaptive ones. Her examples and expectations for the usage of her tactics all focus on the individual making the decision, as if an individual's decision affects only that one person. Plainly, any decision that I make affects many people, some very close to me and some who are strangers. She seems unwilling/unable to apply systems thinking to her mindset. Without thinking systemically, her tactics come across as either self-centered at worst or oblivious to the reality of the ripple effects of any one person's actions at best. She also asks much of the reader in her multiple exercises when she requires the reader to clearly recall a situation that exactly fits one of her notions, and then to self-analyze that recalled situation. That's very difficult to do; personally, I had no luck at all in effectively recalling enough detail in past life events to complete even one of her many exercises. Last, she annoyingly used closed ended questions when prompting the reader for conclusions about his/her learning from each exercise. Example (paraphrased): "Did you gain any insight into your tendency to use comfirmation bias?" As a PhD in psychology, I would have assumed she had learned to use open ended questions to prompt for in-depth self--reflection, in this case asking "What did you learn about your tendencey to use confirmation bias?" Overall, there are far more thorough and engaging books on the topic of effective problem solving and decision making. Duke isn't bad; it's just that she's not good.
How rare is that book that is both packed with useful, actionable information, but is also a total pleasure to read? How to Decide offers instantly helpful advice for that thing you do dozens of times every single day — make decisions. You don’t have to be a high-stakes poker pro or a high-paid executive. Everyone faces decisions, and the lack of consideration we chronically give even to our most serious choices can have lasting effects. In How to Decide, Annie Duke has provided a practical, step-by-step guide to thoughtful decision making, and she’s illustrated it with vivid and sometimes hilarious anecdotes from her own one-of-a-kind life. As I read it, I kept thinking of Maria Konnikova's book about learning poker and its life lessons and was delighted to discover when I saw the jacket copy that Konnikova is one of its endorsers. Now, so am I. Buy this book. It’s like completing your inside straight on the river. Because when you’re talking about life, you really are all in.
I am a public health official and leader in the coronavirus pandemic response. Decision making in the face of uncertainty, incomplete information, and time constraints is very challenging and stressful. She provides a practical, science-based approach that can be deployed in real-life scenarios, including the current disaster. She integrates concepts from probability theory, cognitive psychology, and behavioral economics into a practical approach that promotes learning and continuous decision improvement. I read many books on leadership and decision making. This book is brilliant and nicely complements the more traditional books on decision making. Do not underestimate the importance of this book. Decision making is our most important daily activity. Decisions drive vision, strategy, execution, problem solving, performance, evaluation, and continuous improvement. Decisions determine destiny.
Annie Duke knows her stuff. She writes clearly, provides important ideas, recommendations, along with the tools to implement all of it. My favorite is the use of a journal. Unless you make a contemporary record of your reasons & thoughts leading up to and at the time of a decision, you cannot (at least I cannot) rely on memory well after the fact. Another useful tool she illustrates is the use of bounding, using the process of getting to a rough estimate of the weight of a bison in a photo. This author is extremely talented - and entertaining. I even enjoyed the acknowledgments - seemed to have more life than most. The footnotes and bibliography are also very useful & informative. So there are 3 things I'd like Ms Duke to consider: 1. Flash Cards for the definitions in the book. 2. A laminated outline similar to BarCharts Quick Study series 3. Finally - I want to know the alternative titles suggested by Prof Kahneman!
Even though this book is in the Management & Leadership Category, to me this in the "self-help" book everyone should buy in paperback and work through. If only this book had been around when I was choosing a major in college, deciding whether to go to Europe or get a condo, and making major career choices.
This book is fun with relatable and amusing examples (loved the "Dr. Evil on 4th Down" section referring to NFL coaches' dilemma). If you want to get the most out of it, you will have to do some hard work: looking at past life decisions that didn't end up well. On the other side of your introspection, you may find that the bad decisions weren't entirely your fault (whew!), and nor were the great decisions all to your credit (ah well!).
This book will question a lot of your assumptions, and that's a good thing. You'll find that simply creating a pro-con list to make a big life decision is not a robust enough tool when what you really need to do is get out this book and examine the decision more thoroughly. Who doesn't want to make better decisions?
My only wish for improvement is to add an index because I'll be referring to this book often.
I read Duke's previous book, "Thinking In Bets" and I loved it. When I saw that she had written a 'workbook,' I quickly bought it and devoured it in a couple of days. Duke uses research and her experience as a champion poker player to make this dull topic interesting AND learnable for the average person. It is far from academic and gives you all you need to know about becoming a better decision-maker. In particular, I really appreciated how you brought in the concept of luck and how we need to account for this when we're looking at outcomes. As she argues, focus on the process and evaluate your decisions over the long term. I took a 12 pages of notes and can't wait to share this content with my clients!