March 26, 2013


Decisive WRAP
Every book by Chip and Dan Heath is worth reading. They’ve show us ways to make messages memorable (Made To Stick) and make difficult changes (Switch). In Decisive, they tackle the way we make decisions.

Decisive goes on sale today. I saw a webinar with Dan Heath yesterday and listened to a podcast with Chris Brogan. I saw Dan on the tour for Switch.

The Decision Process

Here is the four step WRAP process:
  1. Widen your options
  2. Reality-test your assumptions
  3. Add distance before deciding
  4. Prepare to be wrong
We’ll focus on widening options. This is difficult. We have limited time. Considering many choices is a recipe for indecision or substandard decisions. We also suffer from the confirmation bias.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is probably the biggest problem in business, because even the most sophisticated people get it wrong. People go out and they’re collecting the data, and they don’t realize they’re cooking the books.
— Dan Lovallo
Which headline do you want to believe?You likely have opinions on
  • the existence of global warming
  • the attention spans of kids today
  • the merits of fluoride in drinking water
  • the need for guns at home
  • whether iOS beats Android
We have our world views and find data that supports our thinking. Our blinders impair our thinking and decisions. We might not see what we're not looking for. In a recent Harvard study, 83% of radiologists failed to see a gorilla waving a fist in a stack of CT scans (Toronto Star, Feb 2013).

Thinking “outside the box” isn’t easy when we are the box. One way is to build a diverse network or team and consider differing opinions early in the process.

An Example

I've found there are strong opinions about the merits of social media marketing. For instance, “YouTube is now averaging 1 billion monthly users who are streaming a stunning 4 billion hours of content every month” (Forbes, Mar 21, 2013). Is that a call to create video or remain on the sidelines?

The ROI question also arises. Coca Cola finds that online buzz doesn’t lead to online sales — even now, television is more effective (Ad Age, Mar 18, 2013). That’s a “stunning admission” for the #1 brand on Facebook with 61.5 million fans. What conclusion do you draw? Are the results meaningful for what you sell? Is there a trend?

What we want to believe may not be what what's comfortable or true. For years, we’ve been told to Question Authority. Now it’s time to Question Biases too.


I’m confident that Decisive will have solid, practical content that’s easy to apply. It’s on my reading list.


PS You might want to read Switch first.

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