Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions

Winner of the 1998 CPR Award for Excellence in ADR (Outstanding Book Category)

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Making smart choices is a fundamental life skill, relevant to everyone: business people, doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, parents, young, and old. Your decisions shape the course of your professional career and the quality of your personal life. Yet few people learn real decision-making skills. Consequently we approach our choices tentatively, or even fearfully, and avoid giving decisions the time and thought required to turn them to our best advantage. Smart Choices offers the first straightforward, easy-to-follow process designed to improve the way you make business decisions, family decisions, personal decisions—any decision that can help you reach your goals.

Authors Hammond, Keeney, and Raiffa, among the world’s experts on resolving complex decision problems, have created a user-friendly set of techniques for assessing your options more clearly and effectively, ultimately empowering you to make smarter choices. Their step-by-step procedures combine solid research which practical experience and common sense to help you specify your objectives, identify creative alternatives, make reasoned tradeoffs, clarify uncertainties, and evaluate the risks.

The authors present a clear process and a set of easy-to-use techniques for making smart choices. They show you what you need to consider in evaluating your options and the steps you need to take to arrive at the smart choice. The essence of the approach is divide and conquer: break your decision into its key elements; identify those most relevant to your decisions; apply some hard systematic thinking; and make your decisions. The approach is proactive, encouraging you to seek out decision-making opportunities rather than wait for problems to present themselves.

You can apply this method to any decision worthy of serious though. It will help you make smart personal decisions—from which new house to purchase, to which mutual fund to buy, to whether to have elective surgery. It will also help you make smart work decisions—from which job candidate to hire, to which business strategy to pursuer, to which travel itinerary to book.

As you use the processes outlined in Smart Choices, you’ll become more confident in your ability to make good decisions and to explain them to others. You’ll become less intimidated by making decisions, and you’ll start making them faster and more easily, with less frustration and with better results.

Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions Attributes

Author: John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, and Howard Raiffa.
Publisher: Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1999