Awakening to Possibilities by Conquering your Villains of Decision-Making (According to the Heath Brothers)

Posted on June 21, 2017

According to bestselling authors Dan and Chip Heath, “when it comes to making decisions, it’s clear that our brains are flawed instruments.”

“Research in psychology has revealed that our decisions are disrupted by an array of cognitive biases and irrationalities; whether we rely on complex analysis or gut reactions, the results are about the same.” – Heath Brothers

Quite often leaders can get stuck in the same decision-making framework asking ‘whether or not’ questions and focusing more on ‘how can I make this work/ get my team behind me?’ rather than taking time to consider ‘what else could I do?’

How can leaders do better at decision-making in spite of these flaws and biases?

‘Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions’ by Dan and Chip Heath is a handbook for more effective decision-making and is a key body of knowledge and exploration that we draw on at Redwood & Co to support leaders in crafting more creative and prismatic decision-making journeys; for themselves, their team and their organisation.

Much like taking a trip to the fairground and spending a meditative session in the hall of mirrors, the book’s narrative ignites feelings of surprise, curiosity, and deep contemplation as the Heath brothers’ fantastic sense of humour and crafty storytelling style navigate the reader through discussions, theories and reflections on the many approaches to making decisions.

Fundamental to the insights offered in Decisive is the premise that:

We all operate with a mental spotlight when it comes to making decisions. What is in the spotlight will rarely be everything we need to make a great decision. Often, what actually occupies the spotlight is the most accessible information along with our interpretation of that information.

The challenge is that we won’t always remember to shift the light, choosing to focus instead on what is going on in our core line of vision and so forgetting to ask ourselves obvious questions. Decisive presents a 4-stage framework (the WRAP model) to strategically move this spotlight around. Each of the 4 stages are accompanied by a ‘Decision-Making Villain’ as well as specific tools and techniques required to conquer each villain.

By following the WRAP model leaders can uncover options and choices they may never have considered before; often totally surprised by the other choices that they accumulate and are now able to take into consideration. With a stock pile of possibilities and understandings, leaders can generate different options to fall back on, leaving them more confident in their choices, and substantially improving the results of the decisions they take as well as the financial returns associated with them.

The examples Dan and Chip use in the book to demonstrate the universal (and largely unconscious) assumptions and blind-spots around typical decision-making conundrums are both highly diverse and immediately relatable to the reader’s own life. As such “Decisive” is addictively engaging, profoundly pragmatic and immediately catalytic of application and revelation. Any reader would be challenged to find one example in the book they couldn’t relate to and have an A-ha moment with!

There can be a misconception among some leaders that investing energy in exploring different options and avenues is a waste of time and resources. However taking time out to discover the cracks in our decision-making processes can not just improve the strength of the decisions we take, but makes the decision-making process more resilient as we uncover information we didn’t have access to previously.

Decisive’ simplifies and systematises the complex and murky waters of how to make better decisions, and as such is a ‘must-have reference-point’ for any leader looking to lead themselves and their team with clarity, impact and creativity through the multitude of decision-taking scenarios encountered daily.

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