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Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  533 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Leaders in all fields-business, medicine, law, government-make crucial decisions every day. The harsh truth is that they mismanage many of those choices, even though they have the right intentions. These blunders take a huge toll on leaders, their organizations, and the people they serve.

Why is it so hard to make sound decisions? We fall victim to simplified mental routine
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published 2009)
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Oct 23, 2011 Eva rated it really liked it
This book describes and examines some fascinating biases and errors we humans are subject to. Some fun quotes/notes:

His capricious performance evoked what lab researchers call Harvard’s Law, “Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity, and other variables, the organism will do as it damn well pleases.” - location 296

people rolling dice throw softly when they want to roll low numbers and hard for high numbers. - location 383

Before the drawing, one o
Nicholas Teague
Sep 25, 2014 Nicholas Teague rated it it was amazing
There is a secret author's fraternity with the rule of siting each of the following at least once in each work: Taleb, Tetlock, Kahneman (and Tversky). Kahneman is their leader, his work has the most inward citations. Second in line is Taleb, followed by Tetlock, and then Mauboussin. The newest member of the group is possibly Nate Silver. They meet annually in an undisclosed location to vote on the direction of humanity's intellectual discourse. Every vote is unanimous. Kidding aside if you have ...more
Marcelo Bahia
Feb 01, 2012 Marcelo Bahia rated it liked it
To be fair, I think this book must have 2 different reviews: one for those who have already read the author's "More Than You Know" (MTYK), and those who haven't.

For those who have read MTYK, this book is less useful and pretty repetitive. Most of the points in "Think Twice" (TT) have already been covered in MTYK, although in different depths. TT usually delves deeper on each subject, mostly because the material is not only focused on finance/investing as in MTIK, and because you have less ground
Jan 09, 2012 Vince rated it it was ok
Maubossin's 2009 work on how to avoid common mental pitfalls probably filled a gap when it was written, but there are better texts available now to help you understand systematic thinking and judgement errors.

Think Twice seems to exist largely to temper the excessess the author perceives in Gladwell and Ariely's works.

Gladwell's popular book, Blink, leads Maubossin to take the opposite corner - that people should "Think Twice" rather than go with their gut. However, he ends his book assuring th
May 30, 2012 Amanda rated it it was ok
Black Swan-light. Mostly recycled content from other books you read that show you how often you're wrong.
May 26, 2017 Mellany rated it it was ok
The best thing about this book was that it was short. It's written without the slightest spark or energy and on a subject matter that desperately needs some pizzaz to be enjoyable.

The author concludes the dull book with two suggestions that capture just how pointless this book is: 1) Keep a decision journal and record how you feel while you make decisions. 2) Make a checklist. [slow clap] A stunningly dull conclusion to a stunningly dull book with absolutely nothing to add to the conversation o
Leo Polovets
Sep 28, 2011 Leo Polovets rated it it was amazing
This book is dedicated to exposing mistakes people make as a result of poor intuition. The problem is that our intuition was great for the last few million years, but it has become inappropriate or ineffective in the last century or two due to the rapid innovations in technology, psychology, marketing, and so on. For example, people favor anecdotes over statistics. In one study, people were given a hypothetical choice between a cancer treatment that worked 30% of the time and one that worked 90% ...more
Sep 09, 2009 Tom rated it really liked it
An excellent overview of Mauboussin's writings on behavior, decision-making, human biases and how to compensate for them. It's what I would call an overview of major themes, written almost as though intended for a five-day workshop on the topic. Devoted readers of Mauboussin, Lehrer, Gladwell, Wilson, Tversky, Taleb and others who tackle this topic will find it a bit of a rehash of familiar topics and stories. I recommend it highly, though, for those looking for an approachable, enjoyable introd ...more
Jonny Eichner
Jun 23, 2017 Jonny Eichner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Above average

Good book that highlights decision making errors. Good advice given: focusing on skill and changing things you can control vs praising or criticizing outcomes. Overall it's a fairly easy and quick read. I would recommend it.
Mar 24, 2017 Fernando rated it really liked it
It is a good checklist and manual to avoid mental mistakes and pitfalls. It is a good summary and how to do book
Tyson Strauser
Mar 21, 2010 Tyson Strauser rated it really liked it
Mr. Mauboussin's latest installment dives deeper into some of the ideas that he introduced in More Than You Know and focuses on the subset of cognitive heuristics that lead us into poor decision making.

In Chapter 4: Situational Awareness: How Accordian Music Boost Sales of Burgundy, MM explains how our judgement is distorted by misperception, knowledge suppression when going against the majority or by distorted perception caused by a mental flaw where we actually perceive the situation differen
Greg Linster
Jan 18, 2013 Greg Linster rated it it was amazing
Think Twice is ultimately a reminder to those of us who make decisions (ahem, that means all of us) to take a step back think carefully about our decisions. After-all, what could be more important than improving our decision making abilities? As the author, Michael Mauboussin points out: “There’s a funny paradox with decision making. Almost everyone realizes how important it is, yet very few people practice (let alone read about it).”

There is something very important to remember when it comes to
Franco Arda
Oct 03, 2011 Franco Arda rated it it was amazing
I regard decision making as a fundamental skill in life. It's always been a mystherie to me why books on decision making do not attract a large audience. As the author writes: There's a funny paradox with decision making. Almost everyone realizes how important it is, yet very few people practice (let alone read about it).

THINK TWICE is a fantastic book for people interested in decision making. In particular, why we often fail and how we can improve our skills. Mauboussin offers deep insights int
Sanjeev Kotnala
Oct 26, 2014 Sanjeev Kotnala rated it liked it

THINK TWICE – Harnessing the power of COUNTERINTITUTION by Michael J. Mauboussin is a sharply focussed book. What makes it interesting is the way it shows you the possible reasons : why you must THINK TWICE?. Then follows it with sharply defined MISTAKES you could be making in reaching your decisions inferences. At the end it delivers the benefit statement- as to how you can make THINK TWICE a HABIT.

liked the book. It is easy impactful impressive reading. Very tightly wr
Nov 30, 2009 E rated it it was amazing
Helpful guide to better decision making

Research indicates that people buy more German wine when a store’s sound system plays German music in the background and more French wine when it plays French music. However, shoppers claim that the background music has no effect on their wine choices. Most people think that they make rational decisions, even if they do not. In this example, irrelevant, low-level sensory input determines people’s choices. Michael J. Mauboussin, a finance professor and inves
Emil Emilov
Oct 30, 2014 Emil Emilov rated it really liked it
Covers common mental mistakes in decision making process. Our old habits of thinking were well positioned to lead us through the simpler world we lived in but are more and more unsuitable to lead us to the right decision in the constantly changing environment that the modern world has become. For example we tend to oversimplify and in order to find an easier solution we ignore the extreme possibilities (black swan events) which could lead us to expect a simpler course of events than the one that ...more
Samir Patel
Oct 08, 2016 Samir Patel rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of Michael Mauboussin's work and this was generally a pretty good book that was both enjoyable and thought provoking. It was easy to read and didn't overly belabor the point.

The reason I took a star off is that I think that he (similarly to Kahneman and The Halo Effect) almost veers off into implicit nihilism toward the end - if you subscribe to the positive-psychology view of the world (i.e. that the outliers reflect possibility), or really any view of the world based on de re rat
Feb 07, 2017 Muwaffaq rated it liked it
As other reviewers have noted there are better treatments available since the writing of this book. There are some practical tips but they are quite wordy and not organised in a fashion that is easy to implement overall. I wish there was a good summary of action items to help you use some of the ideas in an easier way. It is however an interesting read.
Jonathan Perez
Apr 07, 2015 Jonathan Perez rated it really liked it
I first learned about Michael Baubousssin from a colleague at CS and was quickly impressed by his background at Leg Mason and Columbia. I had already read James Montier's book about behavioral biases but was interested to learn how other authors approached the topic. The huge collections of examples and extracts of research done by other prominent names in the field only triggered my curiosity for more (Yes I admit I had not heard about Khaneman and Arieli before but added them on my reading lis ...more
Tie Kim
Aug 05, 2010 Tie Kim rated it liked it
This is another solid book by Mauboussin, whose writing style is very easy to follow. My only issue with it is that he indites many of the same topics (e.g. confirmation bias, tunnel vision traps, awareness of the "anchoring" effect) he covered 4 years earlier in his last book, More Than You Know. If you’re debating over which book to read first, then I would lean towards More Than You Know.

Having said is a well-thought out book in which the author reminds readers to be aware of poten
Lace Lofranco
Aug 16, 2014 Lace Lofranco rated it really liked it
An insightful book of common pitfalls in business, investments, sports, and everyday life scenarios. I had just recently read Dan Ariely's two books: Predictably Irrational and The Honest Truth about Dishonesty, and could not help compare the them. Though it offers some fresh insights, most felt recycled from others peoples books and research, That said, it is still a well condensed informative book. It did take a jab at Behavioural Economics in the chapter More is Different, which made me 'thin ...more
Richie C.
Jan 31, 2017 Richie C. rated it it was amazing
I read this after seeing someone describe it as the more "accessible" Thinking, Fast and Slow. As someone who only got through 3/4 of that book before not finding myself picking it up again, I can agree with that. Think Twice doesn't have much new information but is a great summary of all the fallacies we fall into when making decisions. If we can remember the information in this book when facing our next big decision, we'll be able to be a lot better at it.
Oct 31, 2012 Lf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book, helping folks to think out of the box, and be wary of the illusion of optimism, patterns, and control in their daily lives. It is one of a number of recent books addressing the importance of better understanding the irrational aspects of our thinking which at times can lead to faulty decision making by confusing correlation with causation and seeing patterns which are not really there.
Jonathan Jeckell
Apr 30, 2012 Jonathan Jeckell rated it really liked it
This took a lot of theoretical work on cognitive science and distilled it down to practical tools to apply in real world decision making. It summarized a lot of material on heuristics and biases you would find in Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow," and included a lot of other models, including Colonel Blotto, the Skill-Luck spectrum, and the Polya Urn model, and showed the real world applications. The writing style was very readable and clear.
John Cajucom
Mar 17, 2012 John Cajucom rated it really liked it
A great book that gives you lesson on using your counter intuition on any decision you make in your life. It tells you the errors that we humans fall into while making major decisions. We fall into these traps all the time but we can always think twice about a decision and see every every angle to every problem. Great book! It is also simply written, easy read, and gives you real life examples.
Gabriel Pinkus
Good, short read.

I like the idea of premortems.

A premortem is when you sit down and say "This did not go as planned" and ask what happened and why, but you do this before the event in question happens.

You assume things didn't go well, then ask why they didn't go well. It forces you to really think about the possible negative things that could happen - very useful tool.
May 28, 2015 Terry rated it really liked it
Shelves: investing, wisdom
A very short book - almost a short/introductory version of Think Fast And Slow.

The book is to help people make better decisions by alerting us to recognize when we enter a danger zone.

Each chapter can be expanded into a book. I like the chapter of mean-reversion, skill vs luck, wisdom of the crowd, and base rate.
Apr 24, 2010 Gordon rated it really liked it
A book every decision maker needs to read. Walks you through the most common pitfalls that human nature leads us to in making decision on complex problems. Great examples and cogent ties to other recent books(black swan, wisdom of crowds, the age of the unthinkable). I will use this for a long time to come.
Katherine Collins
Apr 03, 2013 Katherine Collins rated it it was amazing
Michael has two great talents – first, he is able to take sometimes convoluted and arcane specialized theory and make it comprehensible. And second, he is able to clearly show its application to everyday work (and life), especially in the financial business. Every person in a decision-making role should read this book. (Yes, that means everyone.)
Ronald Rajagukguk
Oct 15, 2013 Ronald Rajagukguk rated it liked it
In the nutshell, this book teach us to see things in more details before making any decison. Author present a lot of cases to prove his point. Sometimes i found it a bit hard to digest the samples provided by the author. Merely because i didn't familiar with the economic jargin he was basing on. Nevertheless, this is quite an interesting book to broaden your thought.
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Michael J. Mauboussin is Chief Investment Strategist at Legg Mason Capital Management. Prior to joining LMCM in 2004, Michael was a Managing Director and Chief U.S. Investment Strategist at Credit Suisse. Michael joined CS in 1992 as a packaged food industry analyst. He is a former president of the Consumer Analyst Group of New York and was repeatedly named to Institutional Investors All-America R

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