Chip and Dan Heath on “Four principles for making better decisions”

Posted on: March 28th, 2015 by bobmorris

Authors (and brothers) Chip and Dan Heath propose four steps for improving decision making. Below is an overview of that process, whose initials spell “WRAP.” It’s elaborated in their new book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Business (Crown Business, March 2013).

For example

Consider at least two robust options for every decision.

Important because:

Adding just one alternative makes very good strategic decision making more likely—six times more likely, according to one research study.

For example

Enforce vigorous debate on both sides of an issue and resolve debates with data by running small experiments to test assumptions.

Important because:

We are two times more likely to consider information that tends to confirm our assumptions than information that tends to disconfirm them.

For example

“Fire” yourself and ask what your successor would do. That’s how Andy Grove broke through Intel’s indecision in the mid-1980s about whether to divert resources from the company’s long-standing core business in memory chips and go full force into microprocessors.

Important because:

The status quo is powerful. Research shows that over time, even arbitrary choices are regarded as valuable and right.

For example

Set a clear tripwire now: “If we don’t achieve a market share greater than 20 percent in the first year, we’ll revisit our idea of entering the Southern market.”

Important because:

Our predictions are often incorrect, even when made with high confidence. In one study, doctors who expressed complete certainty in a diagnosis were wrong 40 percent of the time.

* * *

Chip Heath is a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, teaching courses on business strategy and organizations. He is the co-author (along with his brother, Dan) of three books. Their latest book, Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work was published in spring of 2013. Their 2010 book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard was also a bestseller as was their first book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. Chip has consulted with clients ranging from Google and Gap to The Nature Conservancy and the American Heart Association. Dan Heath is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, which supports social entrepreneurs. At CASE, he founded the Change Academy, a program designed to boost the impact of social sector leaders. Their parents are just happy that their sons are playing well together.

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