Regular readers of this blog will know that application always excites me more than theory. I’m always interested in applications of tools or ideas. So, when I heard Sean Brady of Prism Decision Systems was working on a book I couldn’t wait to read it.
Sean is a practitioner. It’s in his blood. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve contacted him only to hear that he was in a room with a bunch of clients helping them make a difficult decision. A tool has to work hard to get into his toolbox, but, once it’s in there, it’ll find itself at the “coal face” on a regular basis.
While the title of his book is “You Are What You Decide”, it’s the subtitle (all modern business books must have a subtitle) that describes the main thrust—”Eight Keys to Better Decision-making”. In the book, Sean distills his twenty years of experience in helping people make decisions into eight areas you need to address to improve your decision-making. He also draws on research in behavioral decision-making, as recently popularized by books such as Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow”.
The eight keys to effective decision-making are:
- Commit resources commensurate with the weight of the decision.
- Know explicitly what you are trying to achieve.
- Consider all possible options.
- Conquer your fear to make a mistake, to fail or to take a risk.
- Know and question all your key assumptions.
- Be acutely aware of and root out cognitive biases and fallacies.
- When making important choices, be deliberate: decide how you will decide.
- Act decisively, monitor closely and learn continuously.
Each key is given its own chapter in the book and Sean draws liberally from his own experience (business and personal) to illustrate his points.
While books like the aforementioned “Thinking Fast and Slow” bring theoretical ideas to a mass audience, they are still relatively technical and abstract in nature. “You Are What You Decide” takes a big step towards real-world decision-making showing, in around 70 pages, how anyone can improve their decision-making capability by adopting a few simple behaviors.