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How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  500 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Through a blend of compelling exercises, illustrations, and stories, the bestselling author of Thinking in Bets will train you to combat your own biases, address your weaknesses, and help you become a better and more confident decision-maker.

What do you do when you're faced with a big decision? If you're like most people, you probably make a pro and con l
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published September 15th 2020 by Portfolio
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Sebastian Gebski
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've picked it up because of two reasons:
* I've heard a lot of praise for Annie Duke (the author)
* the statement "combat your own biases" (that appears few times in the book's description/reviews) got me intrigued

It's rather an introductory book, but it's really well-shaped. It covers (among others):
* some basic cognitive bias
* some basic decision-making techniques
* two kinds of decisions: fast and permanent
* pre-mortems, why it may make sense to give up, etc.

What did I like most? Actually, the
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
As Annie Duke writes in the intro of How to Decide, there are two things that determine how your life turns out: luck and the quality of your decisions — and you have control over only one of those things.

Decisionmaking shapes our lives, but we’re notoriously bad at it. Even after graduating with a cognitive science degree, it wasn’t until I read How to Decide that I felt like I was implementing my research into my daily life. Annie’s practical explanations, examples, and exercises helped me thi
Nov 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Annie Duke played poker. She was damn good at it. So good that she holds a World Series of Poker Golf bracelet from 2004. So good that her lifetime earnings from poker exceeded a whopping $4 million. She has also, not surprisingly written a number of instructional books for poker players. Annie Duke, before turning professional was also awarded a National Science Foundation Fellowship to study cognitive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She brings both the facets of poker and psychol ...more
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommend
This book is filled with excellent advice on creating a process to make better decisions, including:
- Think of all possible outcomes and the likelihood.
- A bad outcome doesn't mean a bad decision since there are things out of your control.
- Hedge against outcomes out of your control (e.g., insurance) or select an option with lower risks.
- If the result was not on your list of possible outcomes, improve your process/expand your knowledge.

There are worksheets after each section for you to build on
Aditya Lahiri
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Made me aware of a few good mental models and blindspots with regards to decision making. However, it felt a bit stretched and repetitive examples made it a drag sometimes. I heard it on audible but I think a physical book would be better since it had many exercises to work with.
Adrien Mogenet
Nov 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Not the book I expected–I should have read the summary first! Hard to come up with a "fair" rating. I feel like this book could become my starting point or reference in the future when organizing training sessions or when providing coaching on Decision Making in general, given how the book is (well) structured: very tactical and practical checklists, thoughts experiments, workshops, and real-world scenarios that touch on pretty much any aspect of our decision-making processes. Annie's thoughts a ...more
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Duke was a world class poker player and she gives solid evidence-based advice on how to decide. Most people judge a decision by the result. But that leads to bad learning about decisions.

1. Write down all the potential outcomes
2. Write down the favourable outcome
3. Write down the probability of each outcomes. They cannot add up to more than 100%
4. Write down the range of confidence

Don’t know the probability? Start with base rates. Ask people but without giving away your own opinion.

5. Writ
Scott Wozniak
Oct 27, 2020 rated it liked it
The author’s first book (Thinking In Bets) was awesome and I recommend it often. So maybe I had too high expectations, but I was disappointed in this book. It’s a critical topic and she wasn’t wrong in any of the insights she shared. But they have all he shared elsewhere—and done better in those other books. Specifically, I’d recommend Thinking Fast and Slow and Decisive. So, this was a less thorough and less insightful version of those other books. Oh well. Good reminders, I guess.
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lifehack
Recommended for anyone who is struggling to make the right call every now and then. This book has explained in a very easy-to-read language regarding the cognitive biases that can potentially lead to "avoidable" bad decisions. In addition to that, a set of tools are explained that can guide individuals to make decisions more effectively and efficiently. ...more
Zhivko Kabaivanov
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
How to Decide (2020) investigates the way we make decisions, as well as common types of bias and faulty techniques that afflict them.

It teaches you how to identify different types of decisions, and then design practical processes to help slow down or speed up the deliberation process accordingly.

Douglas Meyer
We are not nearly as good at making decisions as we think we are. Whether you are deciding whether to hold, raise, or fold a hand of cards; buy a house; go for it on 4th and 1; or any other decision - applying a framework that helps us to focus on process over outcome is critical. Deciding wiht out "gut" is so fraught with issues and biases. Annie Duke uses practical exercises, illustrative examples, and narrative stories to help the reader avoid falling victim to personal biases and weaknesses. ...more
Ashok Talapatra
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Good book in identifying biases and gives a framework for making high-stake decisions. You can skip first few chapters if you have read other books like "Thinking Fast and Slow", "The art of thinking clearly". Chapter on Analysis Paralysis is the best (Chapter 7). ...more
Lance McNeill
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another ace from Annie Duke

I love reading Annie Duke and this book is another 5 star hit, in my opinion. Her work is always extremely well written and well researched. I found the theories and practical applications balanced out just right in this book.
Conrad McGee-Stocks
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Great book; nothing net new but great for establishing artifacts which which to describe the process of making good decisions.
Dima Escaroda
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've stopped at 1/3 of this book because I don't like the way it structured but here are some good notes:

Your decision-making is the single most important thing you have control over that will help you achieve your goals.

Any decision is, in essence, a prediction about the future. There are more possible futures than the one that actually happens.

Sometimes we make good decisions and they turn out well. Sometimes we make good decisions and they turn out poorly.

If you misremember the past, you are
Jim Parker
Nov 26, 2020 rated it liked it
I broke my rule in listening to this practical guide to decision making as an audio book. While PDFs of the exercises accompanied the voiced commentary, this is really a work that needs to be ‘read’.

A former professional poker player, Annie Duke has a steely and highly rational approach to the process of making decisions. Not all of our methodical and cool-headed reasoning suggestions are easy to adapt (she’s not one for ‘going with your gut’), but there are certainly some practical suggestions
Jan 16, 2021 added it
All decisions, big and small, require some thought, but the way we approach them is usually inconsistent. This makes learning from past mistakes – and successes – challenging. Once an outcome to a decision is known, we usually can’t remember exactly what we knew or thought during the decision-making process. Without a clear understanding of that, we can’t accurately analyze what went well and what didn’t. By talking about probabilities in precise terms, eliciting unbiased feedback, and tracking ...more
Alex Ker
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Annie’s book was recommended to me on quite a few occasions. Upon hearing it in an a16z podcast and learning its status as the Greylock must-read for portfolio cos, I was convinced. In its conversational style, “How to Decide” is embedded with the usual share of key findings from psychology/behavioural economics/game theory studies. However, what sets it apart is the abundance of diagrams, exercises, checklists, that make the abstract concepts digestible and actionable, along with fictional exam ...more
Chris Boutté
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
On my Twitter account, I asked how many people have trouble making decisions, and over 50% of people said yes. 

I fell in love with Annie Duke's work after I read her last book Thinking in Bets, and I've been eagerly waiting for this book to come out for months. Annie is a former professional poker player who also studies psychology, so her perspective is extremely unique. At first, when I started reading this book, it felt like a lot of repeat information from her previous book, but I was extrem
Kevin Parkinson
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Alright so admittedly I'm a bit biased. I've been doing some of my own thinking and writing about decision-making lately, in part because of another one of Annie Duke's brilliant books, "Thinking in Bets." So, I'm sort of geeky and in love with both decision-making science and Annie Duke. Again: I'm biased.

And yet, I must say that I found this book to be absolutely wonderful. More and more it is apparent: While we have previously considered decision-making research an elite topic of professional
40% in when I stopped. Overall, 3/5.

Caveat for this rating: a lot of the decision making process introduced in this book, however practical that is, has been model I have operated on in my day job (*try as frequently as I could for personal life). Hence, I learned nothing new.

Now on to the goods. It is a practical and easy to read little handbook that you can immediately apply to your day-to-day professional/personal life.

The downside of this however, if you treat even just 10% of the decisio
Jan 15, 2021 rated it liked it
Big and small decisions require some thought, but the way we approach them is usually inconsistent. This phenomena only add learning from mistakes and success to the challenge. This books stated that we could not remember what we knew or thought during the decision-making process once we know the outcome to a decision. Therefore, no precise accuracy could we analyse what went well and what didn't. The book suggests by talking about the probabilities exact terms, raising unbiased feedback, and tr ...more
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jair Benavidez
Mar 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book is the closest I have ever read on how to apply the concepts of behavioural economics to your daily life. Is a workbook, it gives you tools (all easier said than done).

I read this book as the continuation and the vol. 2 of previous Annie's book "Thinking in Bets"; so if you have read that book it will be easy -though sometimes repetitive- to follow up on the concept and all our cognitive biases when making choices.

I suggest you get the printed version, the book contains checklists, ple
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
While I loved *Thinking in Bets*, this is a better introduction to Duke's thought. It leans more practical than philosophical and includes specific checklists and processes to help readers make better decisions.

Having read her last book, I came up with a similar implementation to one of the tools she talks about. This is to say that you probably don't need to read this if you already liked TiB and have a good system to apply it.

Still, it was interesting to see her recommendations (and it's a qui
Luis Angolotti
Nov 30, 2020 rated it liked it
I liked Duke's "Thinking in bets" more than this one. They both say more or less the same thing, but the first one is the original. "How to Decide" includes some exercises you can do on your own to make sure you incorporate the necessary info before you make a decision, or if you want to check that you are not resulting (i.e. judging the quality of your decisions by their outcome).
This book deserves to be popular, but I feel that it doesn't add too much to "Thinking in Bets". Admittedly, Annie D
Henry Suryawirawan
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
A brilliant book! Annie peels multiple subtle and complex layers on how one can make better decisions. The book is easy to read with lots of good exercises and checklists that help us to understand each chapter better and to aid us in the future when making decisions. Some of the tools are simple to implement, but do not be deceived by the simplicity, since we most of the times are not conscious in our thought process and decision making. This is definitely a book that I'm going to refer to from ...more
Dec 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting book that first up exposes how we misunderstand what we think are our decisions. The clear difference between a decision and an outcome is something I will carry with me going forward. There are also some pretty cool methods to improve the way we decide things and how we must try to get feedback without letting bias interfere.

There are, however, too many introspection based exercises which get annoying after a while.
If you have to read a book for business, you could do worse than this one. It breaks down the parts of the decision making process and examines what works and what doesn’t. It’s not exactly common sense but an analytical person who maybe did some therapy likely learned some of this already. I picked this book up because I perceive myself as being slow to make decisions, but according to the data I’m doing fine.
Jan 19, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2021
You will learn what Annie Duke wants you to learn from this book, but then she will continue to explain it over and over again until you almost do not want to take her advice out of spite. There are great ideas and workbook-type options for decisions, but this could have been 30 pages long.

I would suggest reading the first page and the last five pages of every chapter, but do not read the whole thing.
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Annie is the co-founder of The Alliance for Decision Education, a non-profit whose mission is to improve lives by empowering students through decision skills education. She is also a member of the National Board of After-School All-Stars and the Board of Directors of the Franklin Institute. In 2020, she joined the board of the Renew Democracy Initiative.

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