Don’t Be Indecisive about this Book

Most of the decisions we make in life we don’t need help with—which shirt to wear to work today (I wear Garanimals), whether to keep reading this blog (yes), which film to watch (we just saw X-Men; two thumbs up).

We need help with the big decisions.

Who to marry?  When to change jobs?  Which house to buy?  When to take over another company? (I may not ever face that choice)

As a Christian, I pray about these types of decisions, but I still need help.  And most of you, like me, have probably regretted some bad choices.

If you would like to increase the quality of your decisions, and reduce the number of bad ones, you should read this book.

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip and Dan Heath.  The only negative thing to say about the book is that the title is not particularly engaging or clever.  Fortunately for the Heath brothers, they already have a huge national audience due to the success of their first book together, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (which I’d also recommend for all teachers, pastors, marketers, and anyone trying to get a message out so that it “sticks”).   They are both academics, Chip is a Biz school prof at Stanford and Dan is a fellow at Duke’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship, but they can write to a popular audience (hence the huge book sales).


Decisive begins by describing the “Four Villains of Decision Making.”  See if you can figure out one of villains from this quote.

Who the hell wants to hear actors talk? – Harry Warner of Warner Bros. Studios, 1927

Decisive is filled with interesting stories about tough choices faced by real people: doctors, children, teachers, parents, professors, politicians, spouses, CEO’s, etc.  It’s an easy read.

(I didn’t not receive a copy of the book from Crown, but was given one by my mother-in-law.  I assume it wasn’t because she thought I made a bad choice for a spouse.  I know I didn’t.)

You’ll learn about some bad decisions. 

-After dominating the photography industry for decades, how did a bad process lead Eastman-Kodak to file for bankruptcy?
-How can one avoid the type of mistake that led Decca Records in 1962 to say “No” to signing a contract to one of the biggest bands in Rock history (“Four-piece groups with guitars, particularly, are finished”)?
-How did Henry Kissinger manipulate Richard Nixon into making a policy decision involving Europe?

You’ll learn about some good processes. 

-How does a Catholic priest helps parishioners figure what God wants?
-How did Intel decide to move from memory to processors?
-How did Shane decide whether to buy the $1000 Pioneer or the $700 Sony stereo?

I know what you’re thinking, should I get this book, or not?  I’ll remove one of your options, leaving you only one (which the Heath brothers don’t recommend), buy the book.  You won’t regret it.

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