If you are looking for the best decision making books you can read, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we will cover the top 5 books on decision making that you can read to improve your decision-making skills.
The Best 5 Books on Decision Making
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Dan Heath and Chip Heath
Decisive is one of my favorite books to read on decision making. It’s easy to read and super informative.
In the book, the authors discuss some common errors we make when we make decisions and then give us a method we can follow to make better decisions.
They propose the WRAP method:
- Widen your options
- Reality-test your assumptions
- Attain distance before deciding
- Prepare to be wrong
If you want an easy to read yet super informative book on decision making, this one is great.
Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke
Thinking in Bets teaches us how to think about decisions differently.
Too often we base the “rightness” of our decisions based on the outcome (instead of the process we took to make the decision) and we think of our decisions as “right or wrong”.
Instead, Duke says we should think about decisions as poker. Everything about poker is probability. Even bad hands win sometimes, and the best hands can lose as well.
What’s important is that you make the best decision based on what you have and know. A good decision is not based on if you won, but the process you used to make that decision.
If we do this with our everyday decisions, we make better decisions not only as individuals but as groups. We also become more welcoming of input and disagreement.
If you want to improve the way you and your group think about decision making (and help avoid poor choices), this book is for you.
Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions by John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, and Howard Raiffa
Smart Choices is about, as you can guess, what the name says – making smart choices.
To do that, they give a step-by-step detailed methodology to follow to make better decisions. Their formula is called PROACT – with URL at the end. It stands for the following:
- Problem – work on the right decision problem
- Objective – specify your objectives
- Alternatives – create imaginative alternatives
- Consequences – understand the consequences
- Tradeoffs – grapple with your tradeoffs
- Uncertainty – clarify your uncertainties
- Risk Tolerance – think hard about your risk tolerance
- Linked Decisions – consider linked decisions
If you want a detailed step by step formula for making better decisions, this would be a great book for you.
You can get the book here on Amazon.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Thinking, Fast and Slow is an amazing book – and a long one.
It’s written by Daniel Kahneman, who is a renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
It goes into detail about how our brain works, the two “systems” of our brain, and errors we are prone to.
In fact, there are a couple of sections that struck me with me saying “that’s me there!”, though I could recognize my brain functioning in the way he said in other sections as well.
If you are looking for a detailed, informative (and enjoyable) book on how our brain works, the errors we are prone to, and some ways to overcome, I highly recommend this book to you.
You can get the book here on Amazon.
The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz
The Paradox of Choice is another book I highly enjoyed reading. The main premise is this – we are in a world saturated with more and more choices – and it’s hurting us instead of helping.
When we have so many choices, not only does it make it harder to make a choice, but it makes the choice we make less satisfying.
We can also get into a trap of always seeking out “the best” in a world of choices that we constantly live with regret and what could have been or wondering if there is something better we missed out on.
If you want to learn how to be more satisfied in life and the choices you make (and the dangers of and ways to overcome too many choices), this is a good book for you.
You can get it here on Amazon.
If that’s not enough for you, here are some honorable mentions:
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
Nudge is about how the way we present or offer options can affect decisions.
No choice is ever presented in a neutral way. Knowing this, as well as our biases and tendencies, we then can present choices in a way that promotes better decisions, both to ourselves and others.
An example the authors give is this: the way food is laid out in a school cafeteria.
Whatever food that is put first out front is the food that is purchased the most. So do you put out the food that is the healthiest, that will bring the most profit, or what?
They suggest that we present choices in a way that promotes better health and wellness to others. You still give the choice, but if you can never be truly neutral in offering choices, you offer it in a way that best benefits others.
Interested in learning more? You can get the book here on Amazon.
Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big And Small by Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres
Why Not?, as the title suggests, is about how to come to use everyday ingenuity to solve problems.
Most “original” ideas come from 2 basic methods: problems in search of solutions, solutions in search of problems.
The authors give different methods and tools you can use to help solve problems, such as:
- Asking what Croesus would do
- Feeling others pain
- Looking where else it would work
- And flipping it
To learn more, check out the book here on Amazon.
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
Algorithms to Live By is a neat book because it uses solutions to computer problems and applies them to us as humans.
There are many similar problems, such as what tasks to focus on first and how to sort and organize. The book uses computer science solutions to tell us when to stop searching and choose a house or parking spot, how to balance sticking with what’s familiar and trying what’s new, and more.
To check out the book, you can find it on Amazon here.
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
What I remember most from this book is how he talks about the importance of emotions in decisions.
Many times it’s spouted we need to take emotion out of the decision and use only logic and rationality – but evidence has shown that makes us make worse decisions.
In fact, one example he gave is the fact that psychopaths feel less emotion – which can lead to detrimental actions.
Lehrer goes over how our mind makes decisions and how we can use that to make better decisions.
You can check out the book here on Amazon.
As you can see, there are a variety of excellent books on decision making, each with a different twist. I encourage you to check them out.
If you are unsure of where to start or are indecisive (?) start with Decisive.
Now to you: Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts on them? Did I miss any great books?