I have a bit of a confession – I often have analysis paralysis. In order to be able to focus when it comes time to take a decision, I must make an effort. Even when presented with many options, it doesn’t always work. Each one must be considered and I need to think about every scenario. I know it will help me prepare for the worst. However, what if I could avoid unnecessary worry and stress? You can do many things, but we need to learn how to do them. That’s why this article takes a look at the 14 best books on decision making so that you too, can learn how to make smart and better decisions.
Top Books about Decision Making
Many forms of decision making are possible. You could make simple decisions like choosing lunch or making hard decisions regarding your relationship. Or you might have to decide on a more complex budget. The following 14 books will be covered in this article:
- Business decisions
- Career decisions
- Relationship decisions
- Group decisions
- Financial decisions
Bet you didn’t realise how many different decisions you make right? That’s mostly because we never think to categorise it. Let’s take a look at these books and what each one has to offer.
- There is too much choice.
- How can I relieve stress from decision making?
- Satisfaction in Decision Making
- What to do when you have limited options
Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice explains why the overwhelming number of choices we now have can lead to more anxiety about making decisions. The society we live in provides more options to ensure that there is something that would satisfy everyone’s needs, however, it leads to us most likely being unsatisfied with our final decision. There are eleven steps in the book that will help you reduce your choices and make better decisions.
- Predictable decisions
- Decision-influencing hidden forces
- Estimating value
- Recognizing and recognizing irrational patterns
It is easy to believe we have thought a lot about our decisions, and they are rational. This book will help you to see the hidden forces that can work for or against you in your decision-making. It is easy to see the relative value of something and then estimate its worth accordingly. Recognizing our inexplicable patterns can help us make better business and life decisions.
- Do you want to do more?
- Four-step procedure to combat biases
- How you can stop the cycle of agonizing over your decisions
- Do not overlook precious opportunities
Chip Heath and Dan Heath talk about the 4 issues that can lead to bad decisions in this book. They are confirmation bias, narrow framing and short-term emotions. This book explains these concepts and offers practical guidance to overcome the problems. This book, which is easy to understand and offers practical advice, is well worth the effort.
- Assessment of your plans
- Your potential decision broken down into its essential elements
- Find the drivers most pertinent to your goals.
- Thinking systemically
- Use the right information to make smartest decisions
This book discusses the eight components of smart decisions: Objectives and Problems, Options, Consequences and Tradeoffs. They show the reader how they can analyze their situation and measure relevant factors, make decisions without emotional distress, and then trade offs. Ultimately, in order to satisfy your objectives, you need to ensure you’ve identified the right problem, clarified your ultimate objective and avoid uncertainty and risk.
- Are you sure?
- Are there other possible outcomes?
- The best decision will have the greatest chance of success
- Are my successes due to luck or great decision-making?
Annie Duke uses examples drawn from sports, politics, poker and business to help you make more informed decisions. This book, just like Poker, is about strategy. It explains how all decisions tend to have an unknown element of luck and how we need to “think in bets”. By shifting your thinking from a need for certainty to a goal of accurately assessing what you know and what you don’t, you’ll be less vulnerable to bad decision making.
- Choice Architecture
- These biases can cause us to make poor decisions
- The way people think
- Freedom of Choice
This book draws on decades of behavioural science research and numerous examples to explore the various factors that influence decision making or what the authors call “nudges”. After describing how to use nudging on an individual basis, the authors then show how the technique can be extended to corporate and workplace levels. You can make better decisions if you are more aware of the subtle influences in your environment.
- What the traditional wisdom can do to our decision making
- Why experience can’t be replaced by rules, procedures, or analytical methods
Gary Klein, unlike Streetlights and Shadows on the list, debunks conventional wisdom regarding how decisions should be made. These ten common claims are not as applicable to real-life situations. Klein debunks them. Although the conventional advice can be useful when things are clear and simple, difficult decisions require complex situations with uncertainty and complexity. This book provides real-world examples that show how decisions can be made more realistically.
Jonah Lehrer – How we Decide
- What is the brain’s ability to make choices?
- We can make better decisions.
In this book, Jonah Lehrer’s goal is to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone: How does the human mind make decisions? How can these decisions be made better? Lehrer examines real-life and experimental data to answer these questions.
- Identifying worries you can and can’t control.
- Focus on the part of your brain which helps you to solve problems creatively.
- “Hardwire” yourself for calmness and clarity with guided imagery.
The book does not address decision-making, but instead focuses on problem solving. A program that Dr Martin Rossman developed is based on the latest research and clinical methods. It will help you tap into the healing power within your mind and improve your problem-solving skills. This book provides a guideline to help you live your best life.
- Instead of focusing on wants and needs, focus on your real needs.
- Get better choices
- Knowing the probable consequences of making certain choices
- You can gain inner peace, confidence, and freedom from fear by identifying and using your integrity, intuition, or insight.
The book offers a simple, yet practical way to help you make smarter decisions. A man takes part in a hike with his friends. They take the time to look back at their actions and see how they could have been better prepared. Johnson then began to study the way we make decisions, realizing that “our poor decisions were based on illusions we believed at the time, and our better decisions, on realities we recognized in time.”
- What happens when group decisions are made wrong
- Cascade Effects: Members follow the lead of others.
- Strategies and tips to help groups become smarter
This book is about group decision-making. This book can be divided into two parts. The first section explains how groups make decisions. The authors then turn their attention to simple methods and tips for improving the intelligence of groups. Drawing examples from a broad range of organizations―from Google to the CIA― Wiser will help your team and your organization make better decisions―decisions that lead to greater success.
- You can make decisions in a flash
- What makes some people so brilliant at making decisions?
- Why is it some people do not follow their instincts to win?
- Our brains work in the real world
This book, as the name suggests, is about how fast we can make decisions. The book reveals that great decision-makers aren’t those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of “thin-slicing”, filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables. This book is filled with stories, ideas, research and case studies that cover our subconscious mind, snap judgements, and how it affects us.
- Information architecture
- Seven steps to make sense of every mess
- Complexities we are faced
Similar to The Worry Solution this book offers an easy way to reduce stress and make sense of the information. This book outlines seven steps to help you make sense of your mess. Every chapter includes a series of lessons and workbook exercises that will help you work through any mess. Although this may sound like an inefficient way of making decisions, it will help you make better choices.
- These are the two main systems driving our thinking.
- These systems influence our judgements and decision making.
- What we can do to reap the rewards of slow thinking
Daniel Kahneman discusses the two major systems that influence our thought processes. The System 1 system is intuitive and fast. System 2 is more deliberate and logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation―each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.
There you go. Here are my recommendations for the best 14 books about decision-making. Irony aside, the variety of options available is something that should not be overlooked. This book will teach you how to make smarter, better decisions. If you don’t have the time to read them all why not consider trying book summaries instead? In a fraction of time, you can still get the main ideas in each book.