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Decision Quality by Jennifer Meyer, Hannah Winter, Carl Spetzler

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1The Power of Decisions

Life is a sum of all your choices.

—Albert Camus

Our life trajectories are driven by our decisions: the schools we attend, the careers we pursue, the work projects we take on, the investments we make, the people we hire, and the friends and acquaintances with whom we keep company. Small and large, trivial and transformative, decisions shape our lives and organizations for better or worse.

We see decisions being made all around us, and we are quick to judge those we perceive as poor. We marvel at how leaders in powerful positions make decisions—when they cross ethical boundaries, make heroic assumptions based on wishful thinking, or shoot from the hip, trusting their intuition without serious deliberation. Of course, it is always easier to criticize failures out there, when we observe the decisions made by others—especially those that impact us.

When we make decisions ourselves, however, we usually think that we make them well. The truth, though, is that we probably don't make good decisions. Our brains are actually not wired to make good decisions naturally, especially when decision situations are unique and consequences uncertain. We are wired to “satisfice,”1 to settle for good enough—and there is a big gap between satisficing and making the best choices we can make.

As we will see in later chapters, humans have many biases and dysfunctional habits that cause our decisions to fall far short of decision quality (DQ). To name a few: we rely on advocacy, ...

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