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


  • The Heath’s use the term ooch for small experiments that let you test your hypothesis. Good ideas can prove themselves through experimentation. Unless you are forced to make a commitment, do what you can to try things first.
  • If you are hiring, for example, try to get a work sample rather than just relying on an interview. That would be like a track coach using an interview to pick a rely team. The only thing that good interviewing skills predict is the ability to do well in an interview. Nobody interviews for a living. When selecting teachers, you should try to watch them work with students as a substitute. At least include a sample class as part of the interview process.

Consider the Future

  • When you think you have a bright idea, try to imagine what could possibly go wrong. Just about anything you plan for in a school can have lots of different outcomes and unintended consequences. Be sure to get others involved in your what can go wrong effort. When you roll out a new initiative, don’t ignore what you didn’t expect. Also, try to involve the students in this process. As not all unintended consequences are negative, be sure to look at the big picture.

Trusting the Process

  • People care deeply about the process, and this includes teachers and students. It is important that people you deal with see decisions as fair and that all of the right information was used. Give people a chance to be heard, really listen, and let them challenge the information and reasoning you present. Also, try to state an opponent’s position better than they can. It proves that you listened. Explain the flaws of your position and the benefits of their position.
  • When you have more than one powerful party involved such as administration and the teachers’ union, bargaining is usually necessary. This takes time as you can’t build consensus quickly. Bargaining yields buy-in, which saves some effort fighting foot draggers later.

Honor Your Core Priorities & The Next Steps

  • Agonizing decisions are often a sign of a conflict among your core priorities. As an educator, it should be easy to prioritize as it should always be all about what’s good for students. Unfortunately, a lot of decisions that get made in schools focus on what is either good or at least convenient for the adults. That helps explain why we still have a system that is mostly one-size-fits-all. This is a system that puts compliance ahead of critical thinking and problem-solving. I am starting to see some changes. You can be part of the solution if you use this book to improve your decision making and put the students first.
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