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Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions (Anglais) Broché – 5 mars 2002

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Descriptions du produit


Chapter 1 Making Smart Choices

Our decisions shape our lives. Made consciously or unconsciously, with good or bad consequences, they represent the fundamental tool we use in facing the opportunities, the challenges, and the uncertainties of life.

• Should I go to college? If so, where? To study what?
• What career should I pursue? What job should I take?
• Should I get married now, or wait? Should I have children? If so, when and how many?
• Where should I live? Should I trade up to a larger house? What can I contribute to my community?
• Which job candidate should I hire? What marketing strategies should I recommend for my company?
• Since I feel unfulfilled, should I change jobs? Go back to school? Move?
• How should I invest my savings? When should I retire? To do what? Where?

Such questions mark the progress of our lives and our careers, and the way we answer them determines, to a large extent, our place in society and in the world. Our success in all the roles we play--student, worker, boss, citizen, spouse, parent, individual--turns on the decisions we make.

Making Decisions is a Fundamental Life Skill

Some Decisions will be fairly obvious--"no-brainers." Your bank account is low, but you have a two-week vacation coming up and you want to get away to someplace warm to relax with your family. Will you accept your in-laws' offer of free use of their Florida beachfront condo? Sure. You like your employer and feel ready to move forward in your careers. Will you step in for your boss for three weeks while she attends a professional development course? Of course.

But the no-brainers are the exceptions. Most of the important decisions you'll face in life are tough and complex, with no easy or obvious solutions. And they probably won't affect you alone. They'll affect your family, your friends, your coworkers and many others known and unknown. Making good decisions is thus one of the most important determinants of how well you meet your responsibilities and achieve your personal and professional goals. In short, the ability to make smart choices is a fundamental life skill.

Most of us, however, dread making hard decisions. By definition, tough choices have high stakes and serious consequences; they involve numerous and complex considerations; and they expose us to the judgments of others. The need to make a difficult decision puts us at risk of anxiety, confusion, doubt, error, regret, embarrassment, loss. No wonder we find it har to settle down and choose. In living through a major decision, we suffer periods of alternating self-doubt and overconfidence, of procrastination, of wheel-spinning and flip-flopping, of frustration, even of desperation. Our discomfort often leads us to make decisions too quickly, or too slowly, or too arbitrarily. We flip a coin, toss a dart, let someone else--or time--decide. The result: a mediocre choice, dependent on luck for success. It's only afterwards that we realize we could have made a smarter choice. And by then it's too late.

You Can Learn to Make Better Decisions

Why do we have such trouble? It's simple: we don't know how to make decisions well. Despite the importance of decision making to our lives, few of us ever receive any training in it. So we are left to learn from experience. But experience is a costly, inefficient teacher that teaches us bad habits along with good ones. Because decision situations vary so markedly, the experience of making one important decision often seems of little use when facing the next. How is deciding what job to take or what house to buy similar to deciding what school to send your children to, what medical treatment to pursue for a serious illness, or what balance to strike among cost, aesthetics, and function in planning a new office park?

The connection among the decisions you make lies not in what you're deciding, but in how you decide. The only way to really raise your odds of making a good decision is to learn to use a good decision-making process--one that gets you to the best solution with a minimal loss of time, energy, money, and composure.

An effective decision-making process fulfills these six criteria:

• It focuses on what's important.
• It is logical and consistent.
• It acknowledges both subjective and objective factors and blends analytical with intuitive thinking.
• It requires only as much information and analysis as is necessary to resolve a particular dilemma.
• It encourages and guides the gathering of relevant information and informed opinion.
• It is straightforward, reliable, easy to use, and flexible.

A decision-making approach that addresses these criteria can be practiced on decisions major and minor--what movie to see, what car to buy, what vacation to take, what investment to make, what department head to hire, what medical treatment to pursue. And the more you use such an approach, the more efficient and effective it will become. As you grow more skilled and your confidence grows, making decisions will become second nature to you. In fact, you may find your friends and associates asking you for help and advice with their tough choices!

Use the PrOACT Approach to Make Smart Choices

This book provides you with a straightforward, proven approach for making decisions. It does not tell you what to decide, but it does show you how. Our approach meets the six criteria listed above. It helps you to see both the tangible and the intangible aspects of your decision situation more clearly and to translate all pertinent facts, feelings, opinions, beliefs, and advice into the best possible choice. Highly flexible, it is applicable to business and professional decisions, to personal decisions, to family decisions--any decision you need to make.

One thing the method won't do is make hard decisions easy. That's impossible. Hard decisions are hard because they're complex, and no one can make that complexity disappear. But you can manage complexity sensibly. How? Just like you'd climb up a mountain: one step at a time.

Our approach takes one step at a time. We have found that even the most complex decision can be analyzed and resolved by considering a set of eight elements. The first five--Problem, Objective, Alternatives, Consequences, Tradeoffs--constitute the core of our approach and are applicable to virtually any decision. The acronym for these--PrOACT--serves as a reminder that the best approach to decision situations is a proactive one. The worst thing you can do is wait until a decision is forced on you--or made for you.

The Eight Elements of Smart Choices

Risk Tolerance
Linked Decisions

The three remaining elements--uncertainty, risk tolerance, and linked decisions--help clarify decisions in volatile or evolving environments. Some decisions won't involve these elements, but many of your most important decisions will.

The essence of the PrOACT approach is to divide and conquer. To resolve a complex decision situation, you break it into these elements and think systematically about each one, focusing on those that are key to your particular situation. Then you reassemble your thoughts and analysis into the smart choice. So, although our method may not make a hard decision easy, it will certainly make it easier.

Revue de presse

"In Smart Choices, John Hammond, Ralph Keeney, and Howard Raiffa tell us in plain language how to make optimal decisions in our everyday lives. They combine one hundred collective years of experience in an exceptional resource that takes the reader step-by-step through problem formulation and final decision." –Jerome P. Kassirer, editor-in-chief, New England Journal of Medicine

"Throughout Smart Choices, Hammond, Keeney, and Raiffa provide valuable insight and guidance on the inevitable and ongoing negotiation with yourself when facing a difficult decision. By following their effective, systematic process, anyone can make important personal or business decisions with greater clarity, confidence, and efficiency." –Stephen J. Hemsley, former head of Strategy, Technology, and Operating Professional Service Lines, Arthur Andersen

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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 256 pages
  • Editeur : Crown Business; Édition : Reprint (5 mars 2002)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0767908864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767908863
  • Dimensions du produit: 13,2 x 1,4 x 20,3 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 60.516 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Bruno Fischer Colonimos sur 20 juillet 2011
Format: Broché
Bien entendu, on ne présente plus les auteurs.
Ce bouquin est une excellente intro à l'analyse de la Décision. Il est présenté comme un "how to", avec des exemples plutôt tirés de la vie quotidienne. Pour un usage dans l'eneignement, cela le rend moins crédible, mais cela le rend aussi très accessible.

Recommandé, bien sûr.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Hibou92 sur 8 juin 2011
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
En gros le "truc" c'est :
1) Faire des listes de toutes les possibilités (ne pas en oublier ou en rejeter sans examen)
2) Ne pas se tromper sur ses "vrais" objectifs.
3) Imaginez des solutions originales (penser "en dehors des cadres").
4) Faire des petits calculs (tableau pondérés pour évaluer le pour et le contre).
Si jamais vous êtes brouillon et impulsif, ce livre peut vous servir.
Sinon ....
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Guillaume sur 12 avril 2011
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
There is one thing I really liked in this book : It gives Ideas of little things we can change to enhance our life in many situations.
Thank you.
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Format: Broché Achat vérifié
The title of the book says it all.
You don't know how to make decisions, then go get it. Otherwise save your time for another one.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 92 commentaires
72 internautes sur 78 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Put this one at the top of your reading list 22 février 1999
Par - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I had the pleasure of reading this book last year as assigned material in a graduate business course taught by Ralph Keeney. My degree is in information systems management and, frankly, I took Managerial Decision Analysis only because I needed 3 elective credits to graduate. In retrospect, however, the course was among the most beneficial to me and Smart Choices was certainly the most relevant book I read in graduate school. I say it was the most relevant because it demonstrates how to define problems and make decisions not simply as a business leader, but as an individual. The PROACT approach is a valuable tool for making formal decisions like "Which career path should I choose?" or "Which software package should I recommend to my client?" But the mentality that the approach engenders is pervasive. You will find yourself unwittingly applying elements of it to questions like "How should I spend time with my kids this weekend?" or "What is the best Valentine's Day gift for my wife?" The greatest benefit to me has been the piece of mind that comes with knowing that I don't just make better decisions -- I am now a better decision maker.
42 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent summary of a difficult subject 1 juillet 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I have read many books on decision analysis - however, the 3 authors managed to condense the most relevant points in one book, without academic speak. The famous Kahnmann & Tversky's Heuristics and Biases are nicely summarised in the final chapter. The case studies are easy to relate to. Definitely a professional book written for the layman. No need for a PhD to understand this!
35 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A useful guide for systematic decision-making 29 janvier 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This is an excellent book. The title may make this appear to be one of the too-numerous mass-market books which claim to offer advice on business and personal decision-making but actually offer lots of specific admonitions which are based on values which the reader may not share (example: anything by Steven Covey). This book, however, doesn't try to sell you any of the the authors' values; instead it teaches you an effective process that you can use to analyze any decision-making situation and make the choices which are most effective for achieving your objectives, whatever they may be. The book treats the subject in the same systematic way that it might be treated in an academic decision theory text, only it is written in plain language which can be read quickly and easily comprehended by the general reader. It finishes with a summary outline (they call it a "roadmap") which is a useful quick reference.
52 internautes sur 62 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Best Simple Explanation of Good Decision-Making Processes 27 janvier 1999
Par Donald Mitchell - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I am a corporate strategy consultant and an author of business books and articles. As a young man, I was taught all of the techniques described in this book in their most complex form. I loved the ideas, and have used them with great success for the last 30 years. Professor Raiffa is someone I admire greatly, as a result. I was delighted to find that this book addresses these complex tools in their simplest possible form, and applies the lessons to everyday living (especially the most important decisions that most people have to make). I immediately bought copies for everyone in my family as a way to help coach them in how to have more effective lives. You should do the same. I also suggest that you use the book as a model the next time that an important decision comes up that your whole family should participate in. This will not only help you develop better choices, but it will greatly improve the communications in your family about the decision. I strongly hope that the authors will write a similarly simple version for business people. I know a few hundred people to whom I would like to give such a book.
15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Outstanding process discussion for making good decisions 29 mai 2010
Par Todd I. Stark - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
There are a lot of books about decision making and problem solving, and the vast majority of them are mediocre. There are a number of decent, readable accounts that give some simple tips and teach you about psychological principles, but these typically have very little in the way of solid tools. We all know it gets boring when the math starts or when we have start doing drills to learn basic skills. And the more specific they get with their methods, the less useful it becomes for our own problems. Books that cater to our creative side can help us learn how to break out of ruts, but they are weaker on helping us make good decisions more consistently.

Then there are systematic formal approaches by academics based on mathematical techniques, and these tend to be the equivalent of textbooks. Decision theory, mathematical modelling, strategy, optimization, probability, statistics, etc.. Great stuff. You can get a lot out of them if you put in the study, as far as useful tools and skills for hypothetical problems, but actually applying their lessons when you face a real problem is another matter. And as with most academic learning, practical transfer is left as an exercise for the reader. Also applying formal methods in situations where we already have good instincts, that often rubs us the wrong way. Using a spreadsheet to choose a mate? If you actually were to study systematic decision making and acquire the skills and habits for using those tools, you would surely make more decisions more consistently. But would you be wiser at knowing when to use these methods?

Smart Choices is closer to the first type of book, a practical guide to principles, but it has the soul of a textbook. No footnotes, bibligraphy, or exercises. But it does treat the subject matter very seriously. Maybe that's also part of why many of the reviewers on Amazon found the book boring. The authors' discipline in focusing on what really works while building on solid theory is clear throughout the book. As a result of this unique approach, this book has two great strengths in my opinion.

First, it is a surprisingly concise and admirably simple presentation of decision theory, with virtually no mathematics required. That's a signficant accomplishment in itself. The authors are deep experts in the technical aspects formal decision making, but have chosen a small set of simple tools to illustrate very general principles. When dealing with uncertainty, you create a risk profile for each alternative, listing the likelihood and consequences of each outcome for that alternative. Ok, not exactly rocket science, but who among us ever thinks of actually doing that to help them think through uncertainty? If you can't decide from the risk profile, you create a decision tree by identifying the things you can control and the things that remain uncertain, and their consequences. Very basic tools and advice and very powerful, with some practical advice for dealing with the messy details. It isn't so much the tools themselves that are the point here, it is the straightforward advice the authors offer on how and when to use them. There is a lot of experience condensed into a small book here.

The second strength of this book is that the authors make an unusually successful effort to bridge the different kinds of decision making genres, offering not only the outline of a formal process to guide you and specific tools to use within the process, but very clear practical explanations of why the steps are done as they are. The book begins with the usual mantra of systematic decision methods: having a process is better than not having a process. Sort of like having a map is better than not having a map. Ok. But before they jump into the how-to part that makes this a small practical guide, they also make their process criteria explicit. The process must help you to:

1. Focus on what's important
2. be logical and consistent
3. acknowledge objective and subjective factors, and blend analytical with intuitive thinking
4. require only as much information and analysis as neccessary to resolve the dilemma
5. encourage and guide the gathering of relevant information and informed opinion
6. be straightforward, reliable, easy to use, and flexible

This sounds great, but how can a formal decision process accomplish these things? And do the authors really provide one that manages this feat? It is their systematic and serious attempt to actually meet these 6 criteria, and their relative success at achieving it that makes for the greatest strength of this book.

The way they attempt this is to define each of their process step in very flexible terms, focusing on the critical relationships between the factors. Some trigger leads you to a loose problem definition with its associated concerns. The problem definition helps you identify means objectives (how you intend to meet your concerns). Means objectives help you figure out your more fundamental objectives. The objectives help you generate alternatives that meet those objectives. Analyzing consequences in various ways helps you evaluate the alternatives and even go back to generate new ones. Alternatives often have consequences that meet different objectives in different ways, so we have ways of helping to make tradeoffs. There is a lot of theory and experience buried into these seemingly simple ideas, and it would be very easy to miss the value of this if the reader hasn't seen decision theory done less expertly in many other books. It is very easy to make the process too simple, too complicated, too rigid, or not provide enough guidance. I think the authors get it pretty much just right.

The reason it works in this book, in my opinion, is that by explaining the process in clear terms and not just providing the tools, the flexibility of the process becomes much clearer. It becomes obvious from the examples why you want to keep looking for better alternatives even in the later stages of the process, even as you eliminate alternatives that just won't work or just aren't as good as others. It becomes clear where and how to consider uncertainty. It becomes more evident where various thinking traps make their way into the process by causing us to persevere at the wrong problem, by not considering important objectives, but not looking closely enough at the consequences of each alternative, by not considering tradeoffs, by missing relationships between decisions, or by failing to account for your own personal risk tolerance. The guidelines for the process help you avoid each of these problems by helping you focus on the right things at the right point in the process, but without making it so rigid that you fall into a completely different trap.

There is no magic problem solving or decision making method that will solve your problems for you, but following the advice in this book will at the very least help you focus on the right things, ask the right questions at the right time during the process, and help explain your decisions better to others as well as to yourself. There are books that provide more details on specific tools, but this book stands out for its clear and practical presentation of the overall process of making decisions.
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