How to Decide Book Summary - How to Decide Book explained in key points
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How to Decide summary

Annie Duke

Simple Tools for Making Better Choices

4.4 (335 ratings)
27 mins

Brief summary

"How to Decide" by Annie Duke is a guide to better decision-making. It offers tools to navigate uncertainty and make choices with more clarity and confidence.

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    How to Decide
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    We mistakenly use the quality of a result to assess the quality of a decision.

    Imagine you’ve accepted a new job, and everything is fantastic: great colleagues, satisfying work, and after a year you’re rewarded with a generous promotion.

    Now, consider a similar situation. You accept a new job, but the outcome is the exact opposite: unfulfilling work, unfriendly colleagues, and, on top of all that, you get the boot. A year later, you’re out of work.

    Which job hop was a good decision? The first one, right? After all, it brought enjoyable work, more money, and you didn’t get fired. Let’s pause right there – because you may have noticed that this assessment is based entirely on the decision’s outcome. It says little about the decision itself.

    The key message here is: We mistakenly use the quality of a result to assess the quality of a decision.

    We often forget the process that went into a decision. We usually remember the result. Focusing solely on results, however, can lead to a misguided assessment of the decision’s quality. 

    Using the result to evaluate the quality of a decision is called resulting. In psychology, it’s also known as outcome bias. It may feel rational, but this mental shortcut actually tricks us into putting more weight on the role a decision played in the final outcome while underestimating the role of luck.

    Every decision has a range of possible outcomes. These outcomes can be good, bad, ugly, or anything in between. Whatever it is, though, our perception of how that outcome was achieved changes in retrospect. So, we may believe misfortune led to a bad outcome, or take credit for a good outcome, even if it was partly a matter of dumb luck. 

    Resulting leads to repeating the same errors or faulty decisions because we’re not assessing the decision-making process at all. We’re only looking at the outcome. For example, if you run a red light safely, does the positive outcome mean you made the right decision? Clearly not.

    Resulting also affects the way we view the world. It can compromise our compassion for others and ourselves. We may decide that something bad has happened to someone because they made a bad decision. Or blame ourselves if something doesn’t go as planned for us, even if some factors were beyond our control. 

    Eliminating our reliance on resulting is the first step to making better quality decisions, regardless of positive or negative outcomes.

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    What is How to Decide about?

    How to Decide (2020) investigates the way we make decisions, as well as common types of bias and faulty techniques that afflict them. It teaches you how to identify different types of decisions, and then design practical processes to help slow down or speed up the deliberation process accordingly.

    How to Decide Review

    How to Decide (2020) by Annie Duke offers practical strategies for making better decisions in all aspects of life. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Packed with insightful anecdotes and real-life examples, it provides valuable guidance on navigating the complexities of decision-making.
    • Backed by scientific research, the book presents a comprehensive framework that helps readers develop a clearer thinking process.
    • With its engaging storytelling and relatable approach, the book keeps readers captivated, ensuring they remain invested in the subject matter.

    Who should read How to Decide?

    • Anyone interested in decision-making strategies
    • People who like psychology
    • Business managers who make big decisions regularly

    About the Author

    Annie Duke is a former professional poker player. A 2004 World Series of Poker champion, Duke has written or co-written numerous books on poker, such as Decide to Play Great Poker, which she co-wrote with John Vorhaus. She also wrote Thinking in Bets, an exploration of decision-making strategies under uncertainty.

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    How to Decide FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Decide?

    The main message of How to Decide is learning to make better decisions by understanding the role of uncertainty and embracing different perspectives.

    How long does it take to read How to Decide?

    The reading time for How to Decide varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Decide a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Decide is worth reading as it offers practical strategies to improve decision-making skills, helping you navigate uncertainty and make better choices.

    Who is the author of How to Decide?

    Annie Duke is the author of How to Decide.

    What to read after How to Decide?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Decide, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Less Doing, More Living by Ari Meisel
    • Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke
    • Beyond Order by Jordan B. Peterson
    • Quit by Annie Duke
    • The Power of Intention by Wayne W. Dyer
    • Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath
    • Factfulness by Hans Rosling
    • The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill
    • The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
    • 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam