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Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions: A Practical Guide to Making Better Life Decisions (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 5. März 2002

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"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

Synopsis

Offers readers an easy-to-follow process to improve ways to make business decisions, family decisions, and personal decisions.

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Format: Taschenbuch
The ability to make smart choices is a fundamental life skill and this is a no-nonsense and practical book written by three academics. If you're looking for a guide to making better decisions, whether in private life or business, look no further. The set-up of the book is brilliant. It starts qualitatively with stating the problem, objectives, consequences, alternatives etc. and leads to more quantitative tools incl. my favoured decision tree within uncertainty and risk tolerance. The final chapter says it all what this fine book is about; The Wise Decision Maker.
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Format: Taschenbuch
Eine grossartige Anleitung zur strukturierten Entscheidungsfindung. Hilft den Entscheidungsprozess zu formalisieren und zu objekivieren. Es wird auch hinterfragt ob man sich der richtigen Entscheidung stellt.

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Von Anna am 6. Januar 2014
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Typical-american guide. As for me (not american): too many repetitions. I've bought it only because of the famous names on the cover, but it appeared a bad hit.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9a972e04) von 5 Sternen 74 Rezensionen
28 von 32 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9a979864) von 5 Sternen Are decisions rational or emotional? 10. April 2005
Von Honcho - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
The authors of the book "Smart Choices" (Hammond, Keeney and Raiffa) look at decision making as a disciplined informational affair. If you gather information according to their template you will make better decisions about some things. But they give only passing mention to the fact that decision-making is largely a psychological affair. Information handling (the topic of the decision) is opposed by psychological (emotional) determinants of decision-making. In the gap between these two factors, most people are driven more by emotions than by "rational factors" about information.

The motivation in decision-making is about what people want. The choices made are the expressions of motives - and motives are, by definition, psychological machinery. Psychological machinery is emotional. Period. If you consider the logic of TV's CSI show or Lieutenant Columbo, for example, any behavior depends on three things: motive, means and opportunity. The authors of this book have concentrated on the means for making a good decision. Opportunity to make a decision is taken for granted. But they have deleted the systematic emotional bias that disables so many motives of so many people so much of the time.

The downside of this excellent book is that the authors use the outline of their book in a way similar to the way pilots use a preflight checklist - to insure they will operate the machinery of their aircraft properly. Few human and interpersonal situations respond to "checklist logic". People are not normally as well organized as a well-maintained aircraft. People reach closure on decisions with emotional logic independent of the literal facts - in more cases than not. People have strong emotional habits and those emotions dictate the choices, not the information. That is, emotions frame the overall decision-making stage which relegate "rational" checklists to bit players in the story of the decision process. Relatively few individuals are able to shift the balance toward the rational end of the gap and away from emotional dominance. Emotional tune-ups, done by a trained professional, do more to improve decisions than any rational checklist possibly can.
20 von 22 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9a9798b8) von 5 Sternen Outstanding process discussion for making good decisions 29. Mai 2010
Von Todd I. Stark - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
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.
31 von 37 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9a979b94) von 5 Sternen Somewhat Good but not Great 30. September 2009
Von Sachmo - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
The first 75 pages or so of this book are pretty boring. As someone else noted, immediately after reading them you wonder what it was you just read, because the writing feels very meaningless. The one message I took away from it was, carefully think about how you phrase a problem. True enough, but that is also kind of obvious.

One thing especially annoying about the book was that they role-played with a couple seeking to buy a new home because they were having a new baby. The problem as they describe is whether to renovate, buy a new home, if so which home, etc etc. The examples, although real in some aspects, do not go into enough depth. The case studies such as this one feel artificially canned to demonstrate a point. The case studies could have been a LOT better throughout the book, and would have made the book from an OK product to something really good.

Methods in this book, although systematic and useful, don't directly map to real life. They do however point you in the direction you need to go, which is to start writing things down in a clear coherent fashion (in terms of stating problems), and creating tables to visually see solutions to these problems compared against each other.

This book gets pretty good when it gets into the process of comparing alternatives. The ideas about putting solutions into tables, assigning numerical values to qualitative information, and then eliminating dominated alternatives is great. It clearly illustrates how to compare direct alternatives to each other, and there is very little room for screwing this up. Really good stuff, made the book worth reading.

After that however, I don't really buy into their risk analysis section. The assumptions behind the risk forecasting aren't clearly articulated and I'm not so sure that the future can be forecasted with percentages at ALL (as in a 40% chance that I win a lawsuit). I have a very high degree of skepticism to any numerical forecasting done in this fashion.

The linked decision section is not that great either.

In the end what makes this book really good is demonstrating how to compare direct alternatives - i.e. if you have a choice between 4 houses, or 3 jobs, or 6 car mechanics - this book will show you how to narrow it down to 1 choice in an extremely well thought out and articulated manner. I guess it makes the book worth reading, although much of the rest of it is boring.

My only criticism is that often times choices, (the choice of a job for example) will necessarily involve other decisions, such as what city to live in, what apartment or house to rent, that are tightly interwoven... Moving from top level decisions to bottom level decisions (like city first, then job, then apartment) is not always so clear cut. For example, the same decision tree could be (job first, city second, then apartment). Better case studies with a bit more complex problems would have helped a little bit in this regard.
17 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9a979a8c) von 5 Sternen Practical Guide Based on Research 2. September 2005
Von P. Prather - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Many have written extensive reviews on this book that I believe are accurate. Using the relevant decision research, the authors have successfully produced this accessible guide. The book is a practical introduction to decisions for anyone interested in approaching problems in business and life in a structured manner. While footnotes do not appear, related research confirms the validity of the authors' methods. For an introduction into the research, I recommend the Harvard Business Review on Decision Making from the HBS Press that includes a paper by the authors detailing the even swap method.

My only criticism is the compressed feel of the text particularly in the "Uncertainty" and "Linked Decisions" chapters. For most of the book, the authors did an outstanding job of condensing a great deal of information into a flowing, informative book.
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9a97c0f0) von 5 Sternen Would you tell me please which way I ought to go from here? 10. Mai 2004
Von Vahid V. Motlagh - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
`Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?' said Alice.
`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
`I don't much care where--' said Alice.
`Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Decision-making is the most fundamental life skill that unfortunately isn’t taught properly in schools, high schools or universities. The more we get familiar with art and science of decision-making and be skillful in using it, our move in the path towards success and progress will be more facilitated and secure and definitely our quality of life will improve. No doubt such knowledge has many uses. Perhaps we forget some stuff that we learn during schooling because they do not do anything for us and virtually have not any impact on our life. However, decision-making is useful not only in sensitive and fate making stages of our life but also in betterment of day-to-day activities and making smart choices. All of us have "got stuck" in a crossroad or many roads. In such circumstances we usually try to follow the best road through mimicking other people's decision-making method or simply asking for their help. In addition we are always told: “before making a decision you’d better think twice and consider all the possible aspects and weigh the pros and cons". But such advises are vague and motherhood and apple pie words. Nevertheless, living with uncertainty and the great demand for creativity and innovation are the features of today world. Therefore, any method or tool that can help us extend our thought horizons to face such complex conditions would be of great value. By using these tools we can figure out which things are important for us and by focusing on these values make our decisions with comfort. One of good points of focusing on values and not get limited to available alternatives is that we get rid of wrong and reactive attitudes and instead hunt for decision opportunities so we can proactively enhance our quality of life day by day. I as a person who recently translated Value-Focused Thinking by Ralph Keeney into Farsi found my autographed copy of Smart Choices very much appealing. Dr. Keeney and his colleagues have produced an outstanding user-friendly guide to help people enhance their knowledge of decision-making. This book is a must for everyone who feels “have gotten stuck” in many crossroads and do not well know how to think twice and consider all the possible aspects and weigh the pros and cons.
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