Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, Heath Bros.


  • Multi-tracking is the act of considering several options simultaneously. By looking at one thing, you suffer from the either/or narrow frame problem. With more options, people get less invested in any one of them. This cuts through politics. It sounds counterintuitive, but executives who weigh more options make faster decisions. You also have fallback positions if you need them. Chip and Dan advise that you search for options until you fall in love twice. Conversely, don’t get carried away with too many options. Make sure your alternatives aren’t just minor tweaks on a theme or options that are obvious losers.
  • If you want to get good ideas, get a lot of ideas. Let everyone generate ideas on their own, give them some time, and then put them all on the table. This way everyone participates, not just the most extroverted.

Find Someone Who’s Solved Your Problem

  • Chip and Dan feel it is important to keep track of your competition and learn from what they are doing. In education, your competition is the teacher next door. Thanks to technology, your competition could be any teacher in the world. Unfortunately, I’ve seen situations where teachers in one school didn’t want to copy practices from another school in town just because they didn’t think of it first. Just like your dealings with students, you need to keep you ego out of it.

Get the Outside View

  • The Heath’s warn about making decisions using only what you see and know. You need to make an effort to gather information from outside of your limited world, and from people who know things you don’t. This means you have to leave your office or classroom even if you are just using Skype. This is why engineers visit the factory floor and people try the competition’s products. It could also be patients talking to survivors of their disease or me as a principal making home visits. As you gather information, try to talk to an expert or at least someone who knows more than you do. If you can’t talk directly, the Internet has information that can help. Focus on gathering lots of information, and save the predictions and decisions for later.
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