Decisive Review: Can Decision-Making Be Improved?

I love reading non-fiction. At least half of everything I read is non-fiction. Sometimes, I’ll 6259977find a book I like on a particular subject and end up doing a deep dive with several more books. A recent example was decision science. After being completely fascinated by Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, I discovered that there is an entire academic field dedicated to studying decision-making. This lead me to pick up Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath.


Like many other business and life help books, Decisive does not bury the lead. The framework the Heath brothers have developed is explained in the first chapter. However, the explanations and examples covered in the rest of the book were informative and helped me to understand how the framework could be applied.

Two of the principles from the book, I found myself applying in real life as I faced a decision about where to live. I had to look for housing online, so I was particularly concerned about making a good decision. One big idea was that you should avoid making yes/no decisions about a single idea. The best plan is to make a decision about the solution to a problem, with several options for what that solution might look like. So, in the case of finding a place to live, I focused on all of the possible types of housing I could look for, not approving one choice.

The book also had a lot of good information about how to find information. It went into a lot of detail in what kinds of questions to ask and examined why people often don’t get the answers they need. The authors offered evidence for why very specific questions are the most helpful. For example, ask, “how many times in the last two months could you not find a nearby place to park?” vs. “do you have problems with parking?”. I felt that this was extremely practical advice to takeaway from this book.

The writing in the book did a good job of breaking up passages on theory with interesting case studies and anecdotes. The Heath brothers infused a punchy sense of humor throughout the book as well that livened up the writing style. Clearly, the authors took pains to make sure that they informed the reader without being boring.

Recommending ‘helpful’ books can be tricky. It isn’t always obvious who will be open to advice. That’s why I can only say that I enjoyed this book as a reading experience, and I feel that I walked away having learned something I could apply to my own life. That’s my recommendation for you.

3450744What about you? Do you like non-fiction? Have you read any books about decision science? After Decisive and Blink, the next in my queue is Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. What’s next on your to-read pile?


My Inspiration Lately

As the semester comes to a close, I’ve been up against an onslaught of group projects, final meetings, and rehearsals. April is just a hard month when you’re in college, and it can be hard to find the motivation to do everything. Luckily I’ve found plenty of things to inspire and motivate me. Here are a few of my favorites:

This article by Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favorite authors:

ImageEqual parts compelling and convicting, this article examines the shortcomings of social media in creating social change, and calls for readers to go out and be brave.

Novelist Chimamanda Adichie’s wonderful TED talk:

Chimanmanda Adichie

Yes, this is the woman who has the voice over part on Beyoncé’s new album. Her 2009 TED talk is a brilliant examination of the ways prejudice is created and destroyed.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi:


Within the span of a week, two separate sources recommended this film, available on Netflix, to me (one was this Charlie McDonald video), so I figured I should watch it. In this strangely captivating documentary, we are introduced to Jiro, the first sushi chef to earn three Michelin stars. We see that his absolute dedication to his craft has left him both fulfilled and frustrated. The story, paired with the stunning visual beauty of the film, helps this movie live up to its reputation.

This video about a honey badger that is probably smarter than I am:


Just wonderfully hilarious. Nature is amazing.


Happy Easter! Here’s how to make the cutest deviled eggs ever: