mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Manager Reads - Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

I just wrapped up my first power-up-managerial-skills book: Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip and Dan Heath.

Who recommended the book? This book was recommended by someone on the Twitch Leadership Book Club. A gaggle of managers come together and talk about a book: what they liked, what they found most helpful, what surprised them, etc. Then we close by getting someone to recommend another book. It’s a great motivator to power through books and great for discovering new books to read.

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? Decisive is a sturdy hardcover book with a corrosive green book jacket that features a magic 8-ball. It’s a clever play for a book about making decisions. Going jacketless gives you a simple, black matte cover with shiny corrosive green text on the spine. I went jacketless. The paper inside the book is thick, I loved it. The font choice is nice and there is a comfortable amount of leading. All in all, great first impression.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? Decisive is a well-written, entertaining, memorable, and informative read. The book revolves around the WRAP process which helps us navigate the complexities of decision making.

  • Widen your options
  • Reality-test your assumptions
  • Attain distance before deciding
  • Prepare to be wrong

For each of these steps the book covers a few strategies that can help you. For example, when preparing to be wrong, it’s helpful to set a tripwire to help us realize we have a decision to make; oftentimes on autopilot we totally miss the opportunity to pivot when things aren’t going well.

While this is helpful, the real magic of the book is in the many real-world anecdotes that illustrate how these strategies were (or were not) used in the past to achieve success (or failure). For example, Kodak didn’t take the growing threat of digital photography seriously enough because it did not set a tripwire to help them realize they had an important decision to make. The anecdotes are interesting and ground the strategies as realistic and valuable.

Ultimately the book provides pithy strategies and advice which gives me confidence I will remember them and hopefully be able to identify and leverage them when the time comes.

Favorite quote from the book? Set up “guardrails that are wide enough to empower but narrow enough to guide.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? A great read chock-full of cool stories that make a simple (but powerful) framework for approaching decisions truly memorable.

Notes in Evernote? This book has a great feature I wish more books in this genre did: one-pagers at the end of every chapter that captures the big takeways. My notes are mostly just a transcription of those with some quotes that really stuck out to me. Feel free to review my notes on 🐘.

Most of the world’s wisdom is written down in its best books. Manager Reads is a series covering books on management and leadership, focusing on books that can improve your own leadership with the wisdom of others. Enjoyed this post and want to see more? Check out more at Manager Reads.