How to Make Better Decisions

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Podcast interview with Chip Heath

There’s a running joke in my family. When my girls were growing up I would often shout out to each of them as they were off to the next party or outing – “Make good choices!”


While I was completely sincere in my words it never failed to draw a big smile from them and their friends. (They’ve given me several gifts over the years immortalizing this phrase – see image above!)

While making good decision in life and in business is a great asset I wonder how many people really know how to do it well.

Most of what we do all day long is make choices. We choose when to get up, when to eat, when to go to bed and how to react to every word, deed and thought.

Of course, business only multiplies the choice making buffet.

We get to decide how to position our business, what color our logo should be and even who to hire. Some decisions are certainly more vital than others, but what tools do we generally use to make them.

If you’re like me, it’s mostly gut, experience and a boat load of emotion. Sometimes this works well and other times it plays right into my blind spots.

For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I chose to interview best selling author Chip Heath. You may recall the Heath Brothers penned Made to Stick and Switch.

This month they are back with a new release Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.

As the title and subtitle imply, they aim to teach us all how to make better decision. The book focuses on a 4 part decision making approach that is a bit of a systematic process that can be applied to most any situation.

The trouble with most of us is we make decisions that tend to validate what we already think and doing so blindly or without recognition can lead to trouble or repeating a history of less than stellar decisions.

In Decisive the Heaths suggest the following path:

  1. Widen your options – never limit choices to one narrow set, get options and suggestions from others.
  2. Reality-test your assumptions – this is a great one. Make small choices and see what the market has to say rather than betting the farm.
  3. Attain distance before deciding – this is the good old “sleep on it” option – so many career and relationship ending emails would remain unsent if more of us did this!
  4. Prepare to be wrong – At first I found this odd advice, but what it allows us to do is move to plan B. So often we get so attached to out decisions we dig deeper holes.

Every decision is choice, whether to embrace love or fear, raise your prices, launch a new product, all choices. Next time you face a decision think about the four points above and by all means decide to read this book!


chip heath, Decisive

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