Decision Science

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Date Submitted: 01/18/2013 08:00 PM

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How We Decide

By Jonah Lehrer, 2009 HMH Books

Good news- Very good book! Nicely written with lots of stories, analogies and examples. Easy to read in a few evenings or plane or train rides. Rightfully on many best seller lists. Bad news- A little heady and techno-medical when the author (over) explains the brain. Good news- There are a few simple, immediately usable applications revealed in this book and as usual, I have gleaned the best and most practical ideas from it, and offer them to you. Hopefully you can put them to use right away in your current decision making. the rough. His second shot was no better and his third was worse, landing in the water. He was thinking too much. He took a penalty, chipped onto the green, putted twice and got a seven. Three over par on the hole, tied with two other golfers and forced into a playoff which he eventually lost. He thought too much, used the wrong parts of his brain, and didn’t rely on his instincts! Maybe decision making isn’t as rational as I thought!


1. Continue to use everything I taught you regarding rational process A. In problem solving: • Specify the problem, listing both the is and is not’s • Look for distinctions and changes • Identify and test for true cause B. In decision making: • List objectives or criteria first, then separate musts from wants and weigh your wants • Generate alternatives, screen them through your musts and score them against your weighted wants • Then assess risks C. In planning: • List the steps in your plan and identify potential problems • List causes for those potential problems • Plan preventive and contingent actions


People are making very difficult decisions these days about their careers, businesses, finances, and futures. And they are making them in some very difficult times. I have been teaching workshops on Problem Solving and Decision Making for over 25 years and I thought I knew it all, or at least enough. This...