Decisive by Chip Heath
  • Title: Decisive
  • Subtitle: How to make better choices in life and work
  • Author(s): Chip Heath, Dan Heath
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Year: 2013-03-28
  • ISBN-10: 1446493822
  • ISBN-13: 9781446493823


“Decisive” by Chip Heath is a thought-provoking and insightful guide that helps readers improve their decision-making skills by understanding and overcoming common cognitive biases. The book challenges conventional wisdom and offers a set of practical strategies to make better choices, whether in personal, professional, or everyday life. By examining the root causes of our decision-making failures, Heath encourages readers to widen their perspective, seek out additional options, and consider the long-term implications of their choices, ultimately equipping them with a toolkit to make more effective decisions.

The authors draw on extensive research, real-life examples, and engaging anecdotes to demonstrate the power of their decision-making framework. They introduce the concept of “WRAP” – an acronym for Widen Your Options, Reality-Test Your Assumptions, Attain Distance Before Deciding, and Prepare to Be Wrong – as a roadmap for making more rational and successful decisions. The book emphasizes the importance of avoiding short-term thinking, overcoming confirmation bias, involving others in the decision-making process, and reframing problems to generate innovative solutions. With its practical advice and compelling storytelling, “Decisive” offers invaluable guidance for anyone seeking to navigate the complexities of decision-making and to become a more thoughtful and effective decision-maker.

Book Review

Title: Making Better Choices: A Review of “Decisive” by Chip Heath

In “Decisive,” Chip Heath takes readers on a captivating journey into the realm of decision-making, offering a fresh perspective on how we can make better choices in life. Through a combination of engaging storytelling and evidence-based research, the book provides invaluable insights and practical strategies to overcome the inherent biases and pitfalls that often hinder our decision-making process.

The authors immediately grab the reader’s attention by highlighting the alarming statistics on major business failures and the numerous everyday life choices that lead to undesirable outcomes. Drawing from a wide range of disciplines such as psychology, economics, and organizational behavior, Heath systematically explores the key reasons why we make poor decisions and proposes an innovative decision-making framework known as “WRAP.”

One of the key concepts introduced in “Decisive” is the idea of Widen Your Options. The authors argue that too often we fall into the trap of considering only a few familiar options, leading us to make suboptimal choices. By expanding our decision set, we can uncover alternative possibilities and increase the likelihood of finding a better solution. The authors illustrate this principle with a compelling example of an executive who was contemplating a major business decision. Through a process of actively seeking out additional options and searching for unconventional alternatives, the executive was able to discover a new approach that reinvigorated their struggling business.

The book also delves into the importance of Reality-Testing Your Assumptions. Heath convincingly demonstrates how our ingrained biases can cloud our judgment, leading us to overestimate our own abilities or ignore critical information. To overcome this, the authors emphasize the need for actively seeking out relevant information, conducting experiments, and seeking diverse perspectives. In a particularly powerful example, they recount the story of a team of surgeons who successfully mitigated confirmation bias by inviting a member of another discipline to challenge their assumptions in a complex medical case, ultimately leading them to save a patient’s life.

Heath also explores the significance of Attaining Distance Before Deciding. By stepping back from the immediate situation, we can gain perspective and consider the potential long-term consequences of our choices. The authors brilliantly illustrate this principle through the story of a group of engineers who were struggling to innovate. By distancing themselves from the immediate problem and seeking inspiration from unrelated industries, they were able to generate groundbreaking ideas that revolutionized their field.

Finally, the authors highlight the need to Prepare to Be Wrong. They argue that embracing a mindset of humility and recognizing our own fallibility better equips us for successful decision-making. By assuming that our initial choice is likely flawed, we can proactively plan for contingencies and be open to adjusting our course of action. This is exemplified in the book by the story of a frustrated entrepreneur who, despite facing setbacks, managed to pivot her struggling business by embracing a readiness to adapt and learn from her mistakes.

Throughout “Decisive,” Heath masterfully weaves together engaging anecdotes, real-world examples, and rigorous research to provide readers with a comprehensive toolkit for effective decision-making. The book challenges conventional thinking and encourages readers to adopt a more thoughtful approach to their choices. By employing the WRAP framework, individuals can navigate the complexities of decision-making, avoid common pitfalls, and increase their chances of achieving positive outcomes.

In conclusion, “Decisive” is a captivating and enlightening read for anyone seeking to enhance their decision-making abilities. Heath’s practical advice, backed by compelling examples, makes this book an invaluable resource for professionals, students, and individuals facing the daily challenge of making choices that shape their lives. Through their insightful guidance, the authors empower readers to become more considered and effective decision-makers, ultimately leading to better outcomes in all aspects of life.

Word Count: 626

Target Audience

The book “Decisive” by Chip Heath is targeted at a broad audience looking to enhance their decision-making skills in various aspects of life. It is recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • Professionals The strategies and insights presented in “Decisive” are highly valuable to professionals across industries who frequently make critical decisions in their work. Whether it is strategic planning, project management, or team leadership, the book equips professionals with practical tools to overcome biases and improve their decision-making effectiveness.

  • Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders “Decisive” offers valuable guidance to entrepreneurs and business leaders who face high-stakes decisions that can shape the future of their organizations. By providing examples of successful decision-making approaches, the book assists in navigating complex business landscapes, encouraging innovative thinking, and fostering a culture of prudent decision-making within an organization.

  • Students and Educators The book benefits students by teaching them essential decision-making skills that can be applied throughout their academic journey and future careers. Educators can also use “Decisive” as a resource to introduce decision-making concepts in various disciplines such as psychology, business, and leadership, enabling students to think critically and make better choices.

  • Individuals Seeking Personal Growth “Decisive” provides valuable insights for those interested in personal development and self-improvement. By understanding common cognitive biases and learning how to mitigate them, readers can make better choices in their personal lives, whether it’s managing finances, relationships, or health decisions.

  • Anyone Interested in Psychology and Behavioral Science The book explores the cognitive biases and psychological factors that influence decision-making. Readers with an interest in the field of psychology and behavioral science will find “Decisive” to be a captivating exploration of human thinking and decision-making processes.

In conclusion, “Decisive” is recommended reading for a diverse range of individuals, including professionals, entrepreneurs, students, those seeking personal growth, and anyone intrigued by the psychology of decision-making. Its practical strategies and engaging storytelling make it an accessible and enlightening resource for anyone wanting to improve their decision-making skills in both personal and professional domains.