Decisive by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

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My Rating: 5/10
Published or Updated On: 
November 12, 2022

Big Picture Thoughts

I thought the book took too long to communicate it's core idea, could've been an excellent blog post. That said, the WRAP acronym is really useful. Despite reading this years ago, I still have an alarm that goes off in my head when I lay out only two possible options (narrow framing).

The Main Ideas

  1. Good decision making is mainly hampered by just a few small problems.
  2. These problems can be averted with the simple acronym "WRAP"
  3. The spirit of the "WRAP" tool is about protecting you from irrational or incomplete thinking.

Summary Notes

The Four Villains of Good Decision Making

  1. Narrow framing - driven by availability heuristic. Tendency to give too much weight to the info right in front of us vs. info just off-stage.
  2. Confirmation bias - we tend to form a quick belief, then seek out information that confirms that belief. This happens unconsciously.
  3. Short term emotion - bias towards familiarity + loss aversion and fleeting emotions influence us, particularly towards status quo
  4. Overconfidence - we have a tendency to have too much confidence in our own predictions

To protect you from the above biases, WRAP

1. Widen your options.

Listen for “whether or not” as a sign of a narrow frame

Do the Vanishing Options Test - if I couldn’t do any of these, what would I do?

Brainstorm opportunity cost

Learn from another who solved the problem (laddering)

2. Reality-test your assumptions.

Look at alternative options & invert: what would have to be true for this to be the right thing? What data would convince me of my least favorite option?

Ask disconfirming questions e.g. “what problems does it have?”

Talk to an expert - about the past & present

Zoom in & zoom out. Close ups create intuition, taking a step back provides clarity.

Run small experiments to test theories. MVP.

3. Attain distance before deciding.

10/10/10 analysis - how will I feel about this, 10 minutes, 10 months, 10 years from now?

Consider how you would counsel a close friend in the situation

Know & focus on your core priorities

4. Prepare to be wrong.

Pre-mortem & pre-parade

Add a margin of safety

Set tripwires - the virtue of being persistent can turn into the vice of denying reality. Tripwires cap risk & quiet your mind until they’re hit. Examples: dollars spent, dates, pulling money from a certain account

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