Chapter 5. Decision Making

Whether you're deciding which house or which hamburger to buy, you make decisions every day, if not every minute. It therefore behooves you to learn more about the art and science of decision making.

Because the hacks in this chapter rely on the analysis of future events, they use a lot of math, but don't let that scare you. You can often use the math hacks from Chapter 4 to simplify things.

This chapter addresses the following questions:

How important is your problem [Hack #44]?

How long will it last [Hack #45]?

What steps can you take to solve it [Hack #46] and [Hack #47]?

What can you do when all analysis fails [Hack #48]?

Perhaps most importantly, what do you do when you've got that Friday 7:30 feeling in your bones [Hack #49]?

Hack #44. Foresee Important Problems

Learn to foresee the most significant problems you'll face by multiplying the probability of an event by its impact on human-friendly seven-point scales. The result is a final estimate of importance on a scale of 0 to 100.

This decision-making hack is similar to the technique known as bulletproofing1 but with a much finer resolution and ability to compare concerns. The idea of bulletproofing is to do "negative brainstorming" about all the things that could possibly go wrong with a project, and then to rank them by priority on a chart labeled "Minor problem" and "Major problem" on one axis, and "Unlikely" and "Very likely" on the other axis. Figure 5-1 ranks four things that could go wrong for ...

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