Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work
By: Chip and Dan Heath

Decisive, written by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, is designed to serve as a road map for making better personal and professional choices. The core of the book focuses on explaining how to use the WRAP method (created by the authors) to help you make better decisions.

The WRAP method:

Widen Your Options: In order to break out of the “this OR that” mindset, you must first widen your options and recognize that there are (almost) always more choices. When implementing this practice with a team, be on the lookout for disagreement among the participants; this shows that you have options outside of your original “this or that” frame.

Reality-Test Your Assumptions: As we are often biased by our present moment, it can be important to take some time to zoom out and see the outside view. This is typically more accurate, but more people gravitate toward the convenience of the inside view. An additional suggestion – called “ooching” –  is to run small experiments to test our theories in order to gain an even better view of the possible outcomes. 

Attain Distance Before Deciding: Our short-term emotions and discomfort can sometimes get in the way of making the smart decision and instead one can wind up sticking with the status quo. One way to tackle this is to think about the impact of your decision on multiple timescales, ranging from five minutes to five days to five years.

Prepare To Be Wrong: This can be construed to sound like it means “prepare to be okay with being wrong.” While that is a crucially important factor, what is even more important is making preparations for being wrong in order to help mitigate and limit the impact. A great way to do this is to conduct a preparade and a premortem. The former can help you prepare for if your idea is wildly successful, while the latter can help clarify areas of risk to create a plan for.

One of the biggest takeaways for our team was that we already implement many of these techniques in our professional lives, which is part of what sets our company apart from our competition. For many of us, we are often faced with a number of this or that choices, so one aspect of the book that produced a solid discussion was Widening Your Options. This section encourages you to avoid a narrow frame (this or that-types of decisions) and instead find ways to multi-track a problem (pursuing multiple options at once – this AND that).

As a team, we have had a persistent challenge in coming up with a name for an upcoming project. This section of the book sparked us to initiate a horse race (multi-tracking), which allowed us to look at the problem from multiple perspectives. We broke into three teams that explored the project from three different angles; through this method, we identified an impressive list of potential names and were able to settle on one that captured the true purpose of the project. 

During our discussion, it became clear that though we often use the WRAP technique while working, we don’t typically apply it to decisions in our personal lives. For one team member, this realization sparked the desire to use all of the processes outlined in the book to make some large life decisions, which will be featured in an upcoming blog series titled Decisive in Action.

Heath, Chip, and Dan Heath. Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. Crown Business, 2013.