Review: Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan

4 Star, Decision-Making & Decision-Support
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Francesca Gino

4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book That Could Be Made Better, April 7, 2013

I received this book as a gift and was glad to get it. As a professional intelligence officer I have been fascinated for decades by the mystery of why smart people make stupid decisions — completely apart from outight corruption. This book is most helpful in addressing nine specific contexts within which good decisions gets sidetracked into bad decisions, and I certainly recommend it as a gift for any thinking person, perhaps for a long airplane ride. It does not address my larger focus on “information pathologies”

The book is structured to address three forces impacting on the how of our decisions:

01 Forces from within
02 Forces from our relationships
03 Forces from the outside

The author concludes with a summary of the “nine step program” for not getting sidetracked:

1. Raise your awareness
2. Take your emotional temperature
3. Zoom out
4. Take the other party’s point of view
5. Question your bonds
6. Check your reference points
7. Consider the source
8. Investigate and question the frame
9 Make your standards shine

I went over the book three times thinking about how a more alert publisher (Harvard Business Review Press) might have improved this book, and below I list my suggestions for any future edition:

01 Put an executive summary up front ideally with a memorable graphic.
02 Create a one-page box for each of the nine steps with an easy to absorb two columns of “sidetrackers” and “protectors”
03 Provide a Glossary for all of the professional terms that are in italics throughout the book — not that many, but certainly worthy of collecting together

Here are some additional books I have reviewed that complement this one [for all in this category see Decision-Making & Decision-Support (101) at Phi Beta Iota Public Intelligence Blog.

Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny
Designing a World that Works For All: Solutions & Strategies for Meeting the World’s Needs
Rescuing the Enlightenment from Itself: Critical and Systemic Implications for Democracy (C. West Churchman’s Legacy and Related Works)
The Zen Leader: 10 Ways to Go From Barely Managing to Leading Fearlessly
Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room
Empowering Public Wisdom: A Practical Vision of Citizen-Led Politics (Manifesto Series)
Society’s Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
Reflexive Practice: Professional Thinking for a Turbulent World
Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizing World
Holistic Darwinism: Synergy, Cybernetics, and the Bioeconomics of Evolution

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas

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