Over the past few years, we've seen the release of a slew of books devoted to the art and science of decision making. Authors like Dan Ariely, Daniel Kannehman, the Heath Brothers, and many more have all penned tomes devoted to advancing the understand why we do what we do.
Some of these are better than others. For my money, Kannehman's Thinking, Fast and Slow (affiliate link) is the best of the lot. At first glance, it might seem as if we need another book about decision making as much as we need another generic social media book-and we simply don't need more of these types of books.
And you'd be wrong. Left Brain, Right Stuff: How Leaders Make Winning Decisions (affiliate link) is a remarkable and different take on the subject and I highly recommend it.
Life Is More Complicated than Lab Experiments
Left Brain continues with this theme of questioning what we really know about a well-trodden topic. In this case, it's decision making. Rosenzweig has a knack for shedding light on key areas that many books of this ilk have overlooked, misinterpreted, and/or failed to adequately address. Laboratory experiments by academics might tell us something about individual decision making in isolation, but it's more important to focus on decisions made in the business world. And for that we need a new, context-laden framework.
Readers looking for simple five-point checklists will find this book wanting. To that I say, "Good."
- Is a reward based upon relative or absolute performance? And what is the relationship between the two?
- Are payoffs distributed or even known? Is it "winner take all" or is second prize a set of steak knives?
- Can the decision maker influence performance (as in business) or not (as in the lottery)?
- When is it wise to adopt an ostensibly "irrational" strategy?
- When-if ever-does the decision maker receive feedback? Immediately? Ten years down the road?
Readers looking for simple five-point checklists will find this book wanting. To that I say, "Good." Success in life and business hinges upon much more than pithy bromides. It's messier and much more nuanced, and this challenging book is a breath of fresh air.
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