Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition

( 4 )

Overview


No matter your field, industry, or specialty, as a leader you make a series of crucial decisions every single day. And the harsh truth is that the majority of decisions—no matter how good the intentions behind them—are mismanaged, resulting in a huge toll on organizations, the people they employ, and even the people they serve.

So why is it so hard to make sound decisions? In Think Twice, now in paperback, Michael Mauboussin argues that we often fall victim to simplified mental...

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Overview


No matter your field, industry, or specialty, as a leader you make a series of crucial decisions every single day. And the harsh truth is that the majority of decisions—no matter how good the intentions behind them—are mismanaged, resulting in a huge toll on organizations, the people they employ, and even the people they serve.

So why is it so hard to make sound decisions? In Think Twice, now in paperback, Michael Mauboussin argues that we often fall victim to simplified mental routines that prevent us from coping with the complex realities inherent in important judgment calls. Yet these cognitive errors are preventable.

In this engaging book, Mauboussin shows us how to recognize and avoid common mental missteps. These include misunderstanding cause-and-effect linkages, not considering enough alternative possibilities in making a decision, and relying too much on experts.

Through vivid stories, the author presents memorable rules for avoiding each error and explains how to recognize when you should “think twice”—questioning your reasoning and adopting decision-making strategies that are far more effective, even if they seem counterintuitive. Armed with this awareness, you'll soon begin making sounder judgment calls that benefit (rather than hurt) your organization.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“… a fine pick for any business collection strong in management issues, and addresses some of the predecessors of bad mistakes.” — Bookwatch
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781422187388
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 11/6/2012
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 267,551
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Michael J. Mauboussin is chief investment strategist at Legg Mason Capital Management. He is also an adjunct professor of finance at Columbia Business School. Learn more at www.michaelmauboussin.com.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction Smart Is as Smart Does xiii

Chapter 1 The Outside View 1

Why Big Brown Was a Bad Bet

Chapter 2 Open to Options 17

How Your Telephone Number Can Influence Your Decisions

Chapter 3 The Expert Squeeze 37

Why Netflix Knows More Than Clerks Do About Your Favorite Rims

Chapter 4 Situational Awareness 55

How Accordion Music Boosts Sales of Burgundy

Chapter 5 More Is Different 73

How Bees Find the Best Hive Without a Real Estate Agent

Chapter 6 Evidence of Circumstance 85

How Outsourcing the Dreamliner Became Boeing's Nightmare

Chapter 7 Grand Ah-Whooms 101

How Ten Brits Made the Millennium Bridge Wobble

Chapter 8 Sorting Luck from Skill 119

Why Investors Excel at Buying High and Selling Low

Conclusion Time to Think Twice 137

How You Can Change Your Decision Making Immediately

Notes 745

Bibliography 163

Index 179

About the Author 191

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Risking or Thinking Well

    Mauboussin's gives us sharp tools to make headway in relaying on our blunted ability to be rational. If you take him seriously the only question is how long will it take to learn to Think Twice?

    We all get into the habit of understanding decision making from our own perspective. I am Michael Mauboussin's fan and his mother-in-law so take what I say as you will. I have also spent the 34 years of my professional life working as a family therapist and in so doing have learned about the many emotional challenges of thinking rationally

    Poor decisions can provide clues about significant hidden biases or hidden emotional pressures, either of which can overpower our more rational side. Most of us know that stress contributes to poor decision-making. Of course if the people you love die, or if you get divorced, you might not be at the top of your rational game.

    We also know that it is just not stress or mental illness that creates the conditions for poor decision-making, it is also the way the brain has evolved which contributes to the way we make decisions.

    By pausing to Think Twice, it becomes possible for us to avoid many irrational "slippery slope." Becoming rational is a challenge as we don't value introspection, flexibility or the ability to properly calculate evidence.

    After reading the book once, I read it twice. My goal: make this information work in my life. Chart the appearance of these mental traps with examples from my life and the news media.

    If rational thinking is to increase we have to notice how our brain immediately responds to clues. By looking carefully at these clues and wondering about their impact on us we can often re-think any problem.

    The brain works its short-cut thinking magic, unless one can:
    (1) Seek the statistical outside viewpoints.
    (2) See how we respond to complexity with tunnel vision.
    (3) See the inconsistent performance of experts in predicting the future.
    (4) See the errors in cause and effect thinking in complex systems.
    (5) See the difference between cause and correlations.
    (6) See the difference between skill and luck.
    (7) Consider probability in what goes up will come down, or revision to the mean.
    (7) Consider "the grand Ah-Whooms" or the tipping point in non-linear systems.
    (8) Understand: "Our brains are not wired for the process of moving from preparation to recognition. Indeed typical decision makers allocate only 25% of their time to thinking about the problem properly and learning from experience."

    Therfore: 1) Keep a decision journal, 2) Make a checklist.

    My take away is to understand the ancient roots of irrationality as they surface in my day-to-day life. Perhaps this will help retool my brain, reducing my deep need to feel good and to be right at the expense of long-term solutions to complex problems.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Helpful guide to better decision making

    Research indicates that people buy more German wine when a store's sound system plays German music in the background and more French wine when it plays French music. However, shoppers claim that the background music has no effect on their wine choices. Most people think that they make rational decisions, even if they do not. In this example, irrelevant, low-level sensory input determines people's choices. Michael J. Mauboussin, a finance professor and investment strategist, wants to help people make better decisions. In his book, he details the most common decision-making mistakes and suggests practical techniques you can use to avoid them. getAbstract recommends this book to people who want to increase their awareness of their own irrationality and, especially, to managers in decision-making positions, whose mistakes may have ripple effects throughout their organizations and even beyond.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 23, 2011

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    Posted March 31, 2010

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