TECH TALK: Good Books: Winning Decisions

Another book that I came across on decision-making is J. Edward Russo and Paul Schoemakers Winning Decisions. In their book, the focus is on getting it right the first time. From the books description:

Decision-making is a business skill which managers often take for granted in themselves and othersbut it’s not as easy as some might think. The authors, whose expertise has been sought out by over a hundred companies, including Arthur Andersen, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Unilever, contend that decision-making, like any other skill, must be developed and honed if it is to be used effectively. Winning Decisions offers step-by-step analyses of how people typically make decisions, and provides invaluable advice on how to improve your chances of getting your next big decision right the first time. The book is packed with worksheets, tools, questionnaires, case studies, and anecdotes analyzing major decisions made by organizations like British Airways, NASA, Shell Oil, and Pepsi. Some of the proven, straightforward techniques covered in Winning Decisions include how to:

  • Reframe issues to ensure that the real problem is being addressed
  • Improve the quality and quantity of your options
  • Convert expert yet conflicting opinions into useful insights
  • Make diversity of views and conflict work to your advantage
  • Foster efficient and effective group decision-making
  • Learn from past decisions–your own and those of others

  • Here is what Publishers Weekly wrote about the book (published in 2001):

    The coauthors of 1989’s Decision Traps offer a clear, straightforward explanation of how managers should perform one of their most basic tasks: making a decision. Russo, professor of marketing and behavior science at Cornell, and Shoemaker, research director of Wharton’s Mack Center for Technology and Innovation, break their method into four steps: framing decisions, i.e., factoring in difficulties like information overload and the “galloping rate of change,” and thereby determining which choices need to be addressed and which ones don’t; gathering real intelligence, not just information that will support internal biases; coming to conclusions, i.e., assessing how one’s company acts on the intelligence gathered; and learning from experience. The authors walk readers through each of the steps. Unlike many business books, this one is akin to a workbook, providing how-tos, case studies and worksheets so readers can put their ideas into play immediately. The authors highlight key concepts, and they even show an occasional humorous side. However, they stress that even improving the way one goes about making decisions won’t guarantee that they’ll be the right ones. Decisions still have to be executed successfully, and luck is always a factor. Still, with better decision-making skills, the odds are bound to go up.

    Why is decision-making so important? Id like to end with a quote from the books introduction: In our Information Age, the race will go not to the strong but to the cognitively swift.

    Tomorrow: Beautiful Evidence and More Than You Know

    TECH TALK Good Books

    Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.