The Decision Book

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The Decision Book: Fifty Models for Strategic Thinking by Mikael Krogerus, By Roman Tschappeler, book reviewMost of us face the same questions every day: What do I want? And how can I get it? How can I live more happily and work more efficiently?

A European bestseller, The Decision Book distils into a single volume the fifty best decision-making models used on MBA courses and elsewhere that will help you tackle these important questions – from the well known (the Eisenhower matrix for time management) to the less familiar but equally useful (the Swiss Cheese model). It will even show you how to remember everything you will have learned by the end of it.

We will be publishing series of decision making thought processes our koshkha was going through with the help of The Decision Book.

Today we start with very general thoughts on everyday decisions but be ready for more specific ones in the coming days…

Friday, April 29th
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

The best decisions make themselves. When faced with an array of options sometimes your heart steps in and tells you to just get on with it. Such was the situation when I met my husband. I’ve always been a pretty impulsive sort of person; I chose the first house I bought on nothing more than gut instinct, shared my life for 17 years with two rescue cats who sold themselves to me without the need to consider the dozens of others in the rescue centre, and my husband and I didn’t really need to make a decision about getting married. We met on a Monday and by Thursday it was just assumed that we’d be together forever. No decision making models needed, no matrices of 4 or 9 boxes, just a simple case of absolutely obvious that it was the right thing to do. And so just five months and one day after we met we got married. People ask how it was so simple and straightforward and it was because neither of us interfered with the decisions of the others. If I wanted sunflowers for a March wedding, he went to get them. If he wanted his friend’s wife to make the cake, I was fine with that. The secret to getting along is knowing what matters and more importantly what isn’t worth worrying or arguing about.

It’s far too easy to get hung up on sweating the small stuff. The vast majority of our day to day decisions – and many of the more rare ones – really won’t matter in the long run. So don’t spend forever fretting over cream versus ivory versus off-white – just pick a midnight blue ball gown and get married in that and say ‘To hell with what people think, it’s our choice and ours alone’’

Saturday, April 30th
Menus and choosing the same things over and over again

Some of the most common decisions I find myself deliberating over relate to food. I’m not actually all that fussy about what I eat and I’m more of an ‘eat to live’ person than a ‘live to eat’ type. But I have a weakness that many people share and that’s for ordering the same things every time in any particular restaurant. In some cases that extends to ordering the same dishes in different restaurants. Even though I’ll spend ages weighing up the options, change my mind several times along the way, announce my choice and then change it when the waiter comes, there’s still a very high chance I’ll mostly order pretty much what I had last time, and the time before and the time before that. I can blame part of it on review writing since I use that to justify having Tom Yum Soup in every new restaurant that ever offers it. I think of it as my own personal benchmarking. And if there are Thai fishcakes well it’s only natural to check if they are as good as they were in the last place.

When visiting a familiar restaurant the decision making has to take into account past experience as well as present circumstances. You’ll obviously not want to order something that you had before which was bad. You might consider trying what someone else had last time you were there if it looked really good or they offered you a taste. But most of the time – especially if we are paying – the risk of getting something you don’t like seems greater than the possible reward of trying something new. So if you liked what you had last time, there’s a better than average chance that you’ll go for the safe option and order it again knowing that the liking you had for it last time is worth more than the risk that whatever else you might go for will disappoint you.

Sunday, May 1st
Job moves – Should you stay or should you go?

Some of the biggest decisions I’ve made have been around changing jobs and these have rarely been easy. It’s an old chestnut that the best way to get a job is to have a job and also the best way to get a good package is to not be too desperate to go. It’s like buying rugs in an Indian rug store – never let on which one you want until you know where you stand and never show quite how much you are desperate to join the company.

So when should you consider leaving a job? Sometimes it’s easy to identify that you don’t have any choice. If you need to move to another town and your job is just too far to commute, then geographical necessity says it’s time to go looking for something nearer your new home. If your current job is at risk of being made redundant or you’ve been told that there may not be a place for you in the future then start looking. By all means wait for your redundancy pay-out before you walk out the door but don’t wait until you’ve got it before you start to explore.

It’s very hard to make generalisations but if what you do it making you unhappy, stressed, sick or miserable, then it’s time to ask yourself some serious questions about the nature of life and work. Is it a temporary thing – for example did you just get a new boss or a different role and you’re struggling to adapt? If so, do you think it can improve? Can you discuss it with your boss or with HR and potentially get help? If the company doesn’t give a hoot that you aren’t having a good time then start polishing your CV and looking around.

You may think there’s nothing out there for you and settle into a ‘Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’ frame of mind. Watch out for that type of complacency. Often another company will value what your current company takes for granted. But remember that the grass isn’t always greener and if the problems that are stopping you enjoying your work are ones that you made for yourself, a change of scenery won’t make any difference.

Monday, May 2nd
Weighing up the pros and cons before you change jobs

I have noticed that job opportunities have a habit of turning up when you are ready for them. If you really love the company and adore your job, no head hunter will get you out of there with a crowbar and wild horses. But most of us have at least some dissatisfaction with our jobs. Perhaps you don’t like the money, don’t think you get treated fairly, believe you have far too much work or maybe you’ve just grown out of the role and nobody’s hurrying to give you something better. Along comes the head hunter, offering bigger job, nicer car, good bonus deal and lots of other goodies which may or may not be entirely true. You meet the recruiter, he then introduces you to the employer and all goes well. Then comes the offer from the prospective employer so what do you do? Stay or go?

Again going back to the rug buying analogy, don’t even start the debate on salary and benefits unless you know that you are willing to buy. There is nothing more unprofessional than playing a potential employer just to see how far you could push them and then walking away. That head hunter will never come near you again and at the end of the day you won’t win in a contest of egos. So first thing is to make sure that you are interested in the job sufficiently to be willing to move if they get the deal right. If you aren’t, then withdraw politely, tell the recruiter that it’s not really your cup of tea, thank them for the opportunity and walk away.

If you are interested then prepare for a battle. It’s relatively rare that everything about the deal you have been offered is fixed. Only on my first job move did I just accept what was offered without asking too many questions. After that I learned to fight hard for what I could get on the way in because once you’re in it’s a lot harder to negotiate. If you’ve been offered the job then you know they want you so analyse what’s offered in great detail. What will you lose by leaving your current company? On my biggest move I lost a final salary pension and a very generous share option scheme but I won a 25% increase in salary, a bigger car allowance and a relocation package that would make your eyes pop out. I was basically bought body and soul and I did very well out of it. It’s a shame that the job was a disaster but that’s another story.

List your current benefits and the benefits on offer. Also work out the costs that you will have in changing jobs – this is particularly important if your move requires a relocation. Do not underestimate the turmoil or the cost of moving and be aware that very few companies can (for taxation reasons) or will offer to cover everything unless you are very young, living in rented accommodation and can fit all your worldly belongings in the back of a Ford Transit. Talk through the costs you’ll incur with the recruiter. I find the “I’d love to take this job but I really can’t afford to because I’ll have these costs……….” Approach can work wonders. Three years into my current job without any pay increases (see what I mean about fight hard on the way in) I’m still on 99.5% of the MJV for my role so I know I negotiated a route in on more than the original MJV.

I have also negotiated ‘joining bonuses’ for my last two jobs – upfront payments to help cover some of the costs involved with changing. These may tie you to a company for a couple of years but they can be easier to get than higher salaries – the HR department may have no flexibility in some areas but plenty in others. You need to identify where they can move.

Before you make your bid, know your limits. Don’t get carried away and ask for more than you can justify. You can’t ask them to increase the offer ‘just because’ – you need to show a reason why you think they should give you more. But equally don’t cave in and take something that might turn out to be a bad deal in the long run. And at the end of the day when you’ve lined up all the costs and benefits of the change, do what your heart tells you is right – it’s generally the best thing to do.

Wednesday, May 4th
Advice to Gentlemen on how to keep their women happy

Picture the scene. You’re out shopping and your wife / girlfriend / sister / friend asks you the question that every man fears. No, not the “What are you thinking?” one and not even the “Does my bum look big in this” one. The question is “Which should I buy – this black handbag or this almost identical one that you – being a man – can’t actually tell is any different?”

Most men panic when faced with such a decision. My husband – bless him – has it all worked out. Like the finest fairground mind-reader he knows that the answer EVERY TIME is “Why don’t you get both dear?” It never fails. And if the lady concerned can’t really afford both, she’ll pretty soon make up her mind and best of all it won’t be your fault.

The Decision Book: Fifty Models for Strategic Thinking
by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler
Published by Profile Books, January 2011
Thanks to Profile Books for providing a review copy.

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Decision Book, The: Fifty Models for Strategic Thinking
by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler

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Written by koshkha
koshkha

Koshkha has a busy international job that gives her lots of time sitting on planes and in hotel rooms reading books. Despite averaging about 3 books a week, she probably has enough on her ‘to be read’ shelves to keep her going for a good few years and that still doesn’t stop her scouring the second hand books shops and boot-fairs of the land for more. At weekends she lives with her very lovely husband and three cats, but during the week she lives alone like a mad spinster aunt. She will read just about anything about or set in India, despises chick-lit, doesn’t ‘get’ sci fi and vampire ‘stuff’ and has just ordered a Kindle despite swearing blind that she never would.

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