Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan

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Overview

Psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino has long studied the factors at play when judgment and decision-making collide with the results of our choices in real life. In Sidetracked, she explores inconsistent decisions played out in a wide range of circumstances from our roles as consumers and employees (what we buy, how we manage others) to the broader human choices that we make (who we date, how we cultivate friendships). Gino’s research reveals when a mismatch is most likely to occur ...

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Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan

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Overview

Psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino has long studied the factors at play when judgment and decision-making collide with the results of our choices in real life. In Sidetracked, she explores inconsistent decisions played out in a wide range of circumstances from our roles as consumers and employees (what we buy, how we manage others) to the broader human choices that we make (who we date, how we cultivate friendships). Gino’s research reveals when a mismatch is most likely to occur between what we want to do and what we actually end up doing. What factors are likely to sway our decisions in directions we did not initially consider? And what can we do to correct for these subtle influences?

The answers in Sidetracked to these and similar questions help us better understand the nuances of our decisions and avoid the unconscious obstacles to greater efficiency, satisfaction, and ultimate success.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
We’ve all made decisions and plans with the best of intentions: to save for retirement, to search for a better job, to go on a diet. However, we’re surprisingly bad at anticipating our own behavior and at sticking to those well-intentioned decisions. Harvard Business School professor and psychologist Gino investigates the behavior psychology behind this self-defeating behavior, and describes the forces that influence our decisions—“forces within ourselves,” “forces from our relationships with others,” and “forces from the outside world.” In lively prose, Gino describes experiments conducted with students, observing as despite their best intentions they get caught up in contagious emotions, focus too narrowly, fail to take the perspective of those around them into account, and form unproductive social bonds. If only we could acknowledge and recognize “the forces that derail decisions,” as Gino advocates, we could try to make better decisions and stick to them. Though the book is pitched to fans of Dan Ariely, Gino’s style and execution is much like his, and some experiments are even repeated and may not feel fresh. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

“Similar to Chip and Dan Heath’s Made To Stick and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, this book will appeal to those looking to build their business platform.” — Library Journal

“Thoroughly researched and informative, the book’s clarity and simplicity of structure are quite refreshing. Gino possesses a wealth of well-constructed research and experience — both inside university labs and in the business world. This book is filled with carefully explained studies that have taken many years to collect and establish, as well as many insights from the business consulting world.” — Business World magazine

“For the general reader desiring to learn more about research studies on some human decision biases and their effects, this book can provide a valuable perspective.” — Choice Magazine

“… a powerful survey outlining the entire decision-making process, how it gets derailed, and how to get it back on track.” — Midwest Book Review

“Worth reading in every respect [Sidetracked] distinguishes itself from other practical books in its substance and the relevance of its examples.” — Personalwirtschaft (Germany)

“What separates Sidetracked…from some other books on decision making is an in-depth exploration of the “human” obstacles as opposed to the “organizational” obstacles that can inhibit sound decision-making processes.” — Business Standard

“If you have always yearned to feel more secure in your decision-making, or at the very least, understand better why even your best-laid plans often go awry, Sidetracked is a straight-forward examination of the forces that affect our decisions which can help raise your awareness and keep you from veering off course.” — 800 CEO READ

“… an excellent book.” — Biz India (bizindia.net)

ADVANCE PRAISE for Sidetracked:

Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Duke University; author of the New York Times bestsellers Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth about Dishonesty
We are often unaware of the many forces that affect our decisions—sometimes with devastating consequences. In Sidetracked, Francesca Gino identifies and illuminates many of these forces to help us all make decisions that we, our mothers, and our kids will be happier with.

Chip Heath, Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford Graduate School of Business; co-author, Made to Stick and Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard—
Francesca Gino is one of the smartest and most insightful decision researchers in the field. Her clever research informs every page of this book and it will change the way you think about decision making.

Robert I. Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford Engineering School; author, Good Boss, Bad Boss and The No Asshole Rule
Sidetracked is a scary, remarkably useful, and delightful romp. Scary because it shows how our imperfect brains can mess-up our decisions and our lives. Remarkably useful because it shows us how to thrive and triumph despite these imperfections. Delightful because Francesca Gino’s wisdom, quirky charm, and world-class smarts enrich every page.

John Engates, Chief Technology Officer, Rackspace—
Sidetracked is an indispensable guide for those interested in gaining insight into how we make decisions and the invisible forces that affect the process. Could our brains really be this susceptible to outside influence? The book reveals the truth—through example after example of carefully structured research—of just how easily influenced we are and concrete strategies for how to stay on track.

Daniel H. Pink, author, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and A Whole New Mind
Why do so many of our decisions go awry? Francesca Gino says the answer might be staring at us in the mirror. In Sidetracked, she reveals the many forces that distract our attention, distort our reasoning, and ultimately lead us astray. Reading this rich mix of experimental evidence and lively stories will help you rethink—and improve—how you make decisions in your life.

Susan Cain, author, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
This engaging, beautifully written, and thought-provoking book is a must read for anyone who wants a deep understanding of how decisions get so easily derailed, and advice on how to stick to well-thought out plans. A truly entertaining journey that will keep you turning pages through the very end.

Business World Magazine
“Thoroughly researched and informative, the book’s clarity and simplicity of structure are quite refreshing. Gino possesses a wealth of well-constructed research and experience—both inside university labs and in the business world. This book is filled with carefully explained studies that have taken many years to collect and establish, as well as many insights from the business consulting world.”
Business World Magazine
Choice Magazine
“For the general reader desiring to learn more about research studies on some human decision biases and their effects, this book can provide a valuable perspective.”
Choice Magazine
Midwest Book Review
“A powerful survey outlining the entire decision-making process, how it gets derailed, and how to get it back on track.”
Midwest Book Review
Business Standard
“What separates Sidetracked . . . from some other books on decision making is an in-depth exploration of the ‘human’ obstacles as opposed to the ‘organizational’ obstacles that can inhibit sound decision-making processes.”
Business Standard
800 CEO READ
“If you have always yearned to feel more secure in your decision-making, or at the very least, understand better why even your best-laid plans often go awry, Sidetracked is a straight-forward examination of the forces that affect our decisions which can help raise your awareness and keep you from veering off course.”
800 CEO READ
Library Journal
Researcher Gino (business, Harvard Business Sch.) investigates what causes plans to go astray in both personal and professional situations. She dissects behavioral studies and the actions of businesses like Ducati, Volksawagen, Yahoo!, and FIJI water, identifying nine principles to help individuals reduce the potential for making bad decisions. The book divides these principles into three key areas that influence our daily lives: our emotional state, our relationships, and our environment. Gino explores how the pressure exerted by these influencers can distract both unsuspecting individuals and companies from achieving their goals, giving readers a deeper understanding of the hidden traps that sabotage decision-making. VERDICT This book will appeal to readers of Dan Ariely, Chip Heath, and of others who write about behavioral economics. Gino's writing is accessible and the case studies are both informative and entertaining. Highly recommended.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781422142691
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 292,351
  • Product dimensions: 6.58 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

FRANCESCA GINO is Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Negotiation, Organizations, & Markets Unit at the Harvard Business School. Her research focuses on judgment and decision making, social influence, and ethics and creativity. Her studies have been featured on CNN and NPR, as well as in leading print publications including Economist, Financial Times, New York Times, Newsweek, Scientific American, and Psychology Today.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Getting sidetracked form our plans and initiatives is all too co

    Getting sidetracked form our plans and initiatives is all too common of occurrences. Weather it’s not sticking to our New Year’s resolutions, or not following up with contacting an important business contact despite our best intentions to the contrary, we’ve all had to deal with not sticking up with our plans. Francesca Gino’s “Sidetracked” is a book that aims to help us stick to the plan by mining many deep and valuable psychological insights.




    This is a thoroughly well researched and informative book. Gino possesses a wealth of well-constructed research and experience – both inside the university labs and in the business world. This book is filled with carefully explained studies that have taken many years to collect and establish, as well as many insights from the business consulting. The book is well written and engaging, and Gino takes great care to explain the mechanisms of her and her colleagues’ research in great detail. These are some of the best explained social science findings that I’ve come across in popular accounts, and anyone who has even the passing interest in psychology and social sciences in general would greatly benefit from reading this book. After reading it I have a much better appreciation for my own motivations, drives and blind spots, as well as those of others around me. 




    For all its great qualities, this book is not without some shortcomings. Most of the “real world” examples come from the business world (I guess this is not surprising for a book published by the Harvard Business Review Press) and oftentimes have more to do with big-scale corporate decision-making than with individual and personal decisions. Furthermore, I found it hard to see how some of the psychological insights and principles that were investigated throughout the book have direct bearing on getting sidetracked. Finally, this is really not a “self-help” book despite what its subtitle may suggest. The actual advice that it gives, or the concrete steps that it espouses, are minimal and usually relegated to just a couple of pages at the end of each chapter. Turning deep insights into concrete actionable advice has always been one of the most difficult tasks in any field, and I was hoping that this book would have done a better job of it. 




    This a smart, insightful, and very well written book that has a lot to offer to everyone who is interested in psychological underpinnings of our decision making. However, it has a somewhat limited value as a practical guide that can be immediately applied in our daily lives. 

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Horrible book, don't waste your time. Too many better books out

    Horrible book, don't waste your time. Too many better books out there and not enough time to read those. Skip this one for sure.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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