The fine art of decision making

Twitter was buzzing yesterday after the BBC Horizon episode on How we really make decisions (iPlayer link).  It mostly focussed on the work of Daniel Kahneman who wrote the seminal Thinking Fast and Slow.  I’ve read the book and its hard going, describing dozens of different studies, the Horizon episode is much more accessible.  Unfortunately neither the book nor the TV show provide much insight how individuals can improve their decision making, but a Horizon episode from 2008 (which I’ve not yet watched) claims to do this, it’s called ‘How to make better decisions’ and I’ve linked to it below:

Neither of these two videos can compete though with Dan Gilbert who’s an excellent speaker and has a great TED talk on a similar topic titled ‘Why we make bad decision’:

Graham also recommends the book Decisive: How to make better choices in life and work there’s a nice video review of the book here:

Professionally I’m interested in how to put all this new knowledge to work to help customers make better decisions, and the book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness covers this topic.  It presents lots of examples of real world situations where we can apply the techniques of ‘decision architecture’ to help people make better decisions.  These techniques don’t manipulate people, they just provide the gentle ‘nudges’ that they need to avoid the traps that result in poor decision making.  It’s a good read, better than Thinking Fast and Slow, because its much more practical and the examples are from the real world rather than contrived lab experiments.  This is a short overview of the book by Richard Thaler:

This is a much longer talk by Richard (he’s not a great speaker so it’s fairly hard work) given at Google:

If you only watch one of these videos though, please watch Dan Gilbert (above), and then go on to watch his other TED Talk ‘The surprising science of happiness’ and read his book Stumbling on Happiness which is also excellent.

For those of you who got this far, yes I’ve just discovered how to insert videos into blog posts!

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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