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Decisive Summary

July 1, 2019

My summary of Decisive, a book about a process for making better decisions.

The express version

  1. Widen Options: Add one more option to your consideration set. (If you can’t think of one easily, look for someone who’s solved your problem, via your network of contacts or a simple Internet search.)
  2. Reality-Test: Call one expert who can educate you about the “base rates” in your situation (for example, odds of success or typical timelines).
  3. Attain Distance: Resolve tough dilemmas by asking which option best fits your core priorities or what someone else (a friend or your successor) should do.
  4. Prepare: Bookend the future—spend an hour thinking about what could go wrong and what could go right, and then do something to prepare for both contingencies.

Problem: The Four Villains


Intuition is only accurate in domains where it has been carefully trained. Training intuition requires a “kind” environment - one that is predictable, where you get lots of repetition and quick feedback on your choices. See book endnotes for more on this.

Solution: The WRAP Process

Widen Your Options

Avoid a narrow frame

Multitrack (consider multiple options simultaneously)

Find someone who’s solved your problem

Reality-test Assumptions

Consider the opposite

Zoom in, zoom out

Ooch (run a small experiment to test a theory)

Attain Distance Before Deciding

Overcome short-term emotions

Honor your core priorities

Prepare to Be Wrong

Bookend the future

Set a tripwire

Trusting the process