Annie Duke on How to Decide, Part 8

In her book, How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices, Annie Duke discusses how to train our brains to combat our own bias and help ourselves make more confident and better decisions.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 7, “Breaking Free from Analysis Paralysis”

In this chapter, Annie Duke discusses how we can spend our decision-making time more wisely and reaching working decisions faster. She offers the following recommendations:

  • A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing:
    • We often get trapped and slow down in a decision-making process based on the closeness of the options. When two options are close to each other in payoff or quality, we become much slower in choosing.
    • Annie asserts that, when weighing two close options, the decision is easy. She also suggested that we ask this assessment question, “Whichever option I choose, how wrong can I be?”
    • When two options are close in payoff or quality, we can break through the bottleneck and decide quickly because, whichever one we choose, we cannot be so much far off or wrong.
  • Quitters Often Win, and Winners Often Quit:
    • Opportunity cost is another tool we can use to enhance our decision-making skills. When we pick an option, we lose the potential gains associated with the choice we do not pick.
    • Part of a good decision process includes asking ourselves, “If I pick this option, what’s the cost of quitting?” The lower the cost of quitting, the faster we can go. It is easier to unwind the decision and choose a different option, including options we may have rejected before.
    • Once we understand the importance of quitting a decision and making course adjustments, we can use the tool of decision stacking. Decision stacking is the prioritization habit of finding ways to make low-impact, the easy-to-quit decision in advance of a high-impact, harder-to-quit decision.
  • Is This Your Final Answer?
    • For every decision, there comes the point when we should stop analyzing and just decide. If our goal is to get to certainty about our choice on every decision, we will never be finished with the analysis.
    • We can ask ourselves this question, “Is there additional information that would establish a clearly preferred option or cause us to change our preferred option?” If yes, find that information first. If no, decide and move on.