Decisive – How to make better choices in life and work
Chip and Dan Heath
Leading a school is complex, and the multiple decision making choices we are faced with are no less so. In the same day we may have to make a strategic decision like which teacher to hire on an ongoing basis, shortly followed by a disciplinary decision for a student who has just misbehaved. As leaders we are held accountable for our decisions and the decisions of those who came before us. So what if there were better ways of making decisions? Better ways which not only improved our own decisions, but improved the collective decision making processes of our whole school.
In ‘Decisive – How to make better choices in life and work’ Chip and Dan Heath, authors of ‘Switch’ and ‘Made to Stick’, turn their attention towards decision making, and provide clear examples of how to improve decisions within your school.
The Heaths begin by exposing the four villains of decision making namely, narrow framing, confirmation bias, short-term emotion and overconfidence. Narrow framing is the limiting of the options we consider to either/or decisions and whether or not decisions. Confirmation bias is the seeking of seemingly objective information that confirms your own opinions. Short-term emotion warps our decision making, by swaying us to think in terms of immediate emotions. The last villain of decision making is overconfidence in the correctness of the decisions we do make.
After exposing these four villains (and making the reader slap their forehead in frustration at how many times they have fallen victim to them) the Heaths lay out the framework to overcome them. The WRAP framework of Widen your options, Reality test your assumptions, Attain Distance before deciding and Prepare to be wrong is better left to the Heaths to explain in their book, needless to say however, it is insightful, clever, well written and backed by exceptional research. Like their other books and those of similar nonfiction writers like Daniel Pink and Malcolm Gladwell, the Heaths manage to synthesise a broad range of high level research and create new meaning for the reader. This book is no exception.
Also like their previous books, the Heaths have supplemented their book with a series of great supporting resources on the website, so that you can take summaries, reading guides and practice scenarios to your team, and help them improve collective decision making.
You should read this book if you want to understand you own decision making processes and improve them. It is easy to read and well backed by research, and is highly relevant to personal and school based contexts.