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Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,530 ratings  ·  71 reviews
"Most studies of decision-making treat humans like rats in a laboratory. But Dr. Klein, a cognitive psychologist, spent a decade watching fire commanders, fighter pilots, paramedics and others making split-second decisions on the job, and this book is a clear and engaging account of his findings."
-- "The Wall Street Journal" Anyone who watches the television news has seen
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 18th 1999 by MIT Press (first published January 16th 1998)
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Nazrul Buang
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
BOOK REVIEW: Finally finished reading "Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions" (1999) by Gary A. Klein. Firstly, what made me read this book was that it is referred by Daniel Kahneman in his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow".

This book is very different from other psychology books because, while most of them are based on cognitive psychology and scientifically tested in controlled labs, Klein is against all that and the contents are based on applied psychology and empirically observed in
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
I'm not really sure how to review this book - imagine you were put in a room and asked 'how do people make decisions' for both crisis situations or planned situations. I would hazard to guess that you would be able to come to the same conclusions much the same way as this book.

Feeling eerily like common sense, this long study (funded by the Dept. of Defense) makes such propositions that experience plays an important role in crisis decisions....etc. etc.

I really learned nothing from this book and
Jul 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, psychology
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a book very much along the lines of Blink by Malcolm Gladwell but in my opinion it dives deeper into the understanding of how people actually make decisions. Gladwell's book is certainly very interesting and highly recommended but this book is probably for those that wish to take the next step in their understanding of the decision process.

The book is easy to read and very engaging. It provides real world examples of how good and bad decision were made and the processes behind these. It
Nelson Rosario
Sep 23, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a valuable book on how and why people make decisions. I really liked the book. There are a plethora of stories illustrating decision making processes in a variety of field. Dr. Klein does an excellent job of breaking down these stories and explaining what is really going on. I genuinely feel I have a better understanding of decision making after reading this book. So, why did I give it three stars? The book is too long. Every subsequent chapter builds on the previous chapter, but the ...more
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Possibly my new favorite book of all time. This is a must-read for anyone interested in professional development. Of particular interest is the concept of “expert learning” that enables the development of intuition. Also, while analytical processes of decision-making have a place in growing leaders, these should be viewed skeptically, especially when touted as the panacea for all decision-making ills. Based on extensive scientific research, Gary Klein has given us a classic that belongs on every ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like the book Thinking Fast and Slow, this book will show decision making from a completely different context.
Klein does a masterful job of showing how intuition and experience can also be great contexts for decision making.
Deane Barker
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
The result of years of research about decision making. Spoiler: we rarely compare alternative paths of action. Instead, we seize on something we think will work, then evaluate that. If we decide it's unworkable, then we move on to the next obvious option, and down the list.
David Bowles
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent book. Don't get hung up on the title. Understand the value of experience and trusting your gut.
Josh Gibson
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Klein provides a window into the power and limitations of experience and intuition in decision making in natural environments. Similar to Kahneman, be ready for some dense academic writing. You may be able to find a good summary online and get the gist of the decision making models he presents in the first 2/3 of the book. At the very least I would read the last few chapters - The Power to Read Minds (mostly on effective communication to improve decision making); The Power is the Team Mind ...more
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating book that explores the cognitive processes and methodologies involved in "naturalistic decision making" made by experts. Essentially, this means time- and stress-pressured decisions made by people in high-intensity occupation like tank platoon commanders, pilots, firefighters, neonatal nurses, nuclear facility engineers, and more.

The book, which can occasionally be a little difficult to get through, has beautiful nuggets of information spread throughout that deal with the
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ground-breaking, extensive research into decision-making in naturalistic environment, where time pressure and stakes are high. Looking into how experienced firefighters, military personnel, nurses, chess masters and other domain experts make their decisions in real-time situations, where context and conditions vary immensely, the author identifies a model for experiential decision-making, which is very different from traditional models of rational decision-making.
The sources of power identified
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: default
Sources of Power is the kind of work that should be required reading for anyone who has to deal with people on a daily basis. Since almost all of us deal with people making decisions daily, that means almost all of us should read this book.

Klein explores the various methods we use to make decisions when we have both expert and non-expert knowledge in a particular field. Along the way, he addresses group thinking processes, communicating intent effectively, and other cognitive findings while
Robin Witt
Interesting, but not interesting enough to request a second time after my library renewals ran out. So it's been returned unfinished. But the time I spent reading it was time well spent.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I really struggled to get thorough this book, it's not necessarily the books fault, but it was a bit dry at least for me. While the book does have some interesting ideas and dose present another point of view on the process of decision making, it felt like it was a bit to long for what it was trying to say. At the end of the day there were a few interesting tidbits about the decision process, but and I stress this could just be because it took me a rather long time to get through it, the message ...more
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
The book title and first chapter sound promising. Understanding how people make decisions is a great tool that you can use. After moving to the second chapter and reading about the scientific method of the research I was excited (as I have a science background). After that I was expecting to get to the crust of it but it seemed like we never got to the promise or at least what I was hoping.

Useful things that were outlined in the book
- Experts make good decision due to the fact that they know
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been fascinated by books on decision-making since I read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. I loved his questioning of whether snap decisions are better ones than well-thought out, over-analysed justified-to-the-end-of-time ones. Gary Klein unpacks this further in Seeing What Others Don't: The remarkable ways we gain Insights.

In that book, he refers quite a bit to this one - especially the stories about decisions made in times of stress - like with firefighters, nurses and those life and death
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ipsilateral vies yet powerful and compelling

This is my first read to Gary Klein, and I am not disappointed. I found the way to Gary via Malcolm Gladwell books. Gary researches the naturalistic method of everyday decision makers; firefighters, nurses, pilots, military officers and more. His views and methods are well described and published, his commercial interests are clear and well declared. I enjoyed the discussion on mental simulation, analogies and metaphors and the work by De Groote with
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was such a great complement to other decision making and cognition works like Thinking, Fast and Slow, Peak, Subliminal, and even Moonwalking with Einstein. It provides a lot to think about our own decision making but also a lot about team decision making and teaching or leading others (especially novices) in high pressure, high stakes situations.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read in tandem with Khaneman
Megyn Rimes
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read on decision making. Recommended highly for newcomers to the subject, as much as for the more experienced readers.
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Experience vs Rational Decision Modeling vs RMD
Artificial Intelligence vs. Inquiry based thinking
Tomasz Urbaszek
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
For those interested in decision making I consider this book as compulsory position. Mathematicians and AI developers can gain an interesting insight in nature of everyday decision making process.
Mar 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rachel by: Carl
Shelves: psychology
This was an interesting, though oddly named, investigation into the process of decision making. Klein spent years researching the process of making decisions, and discovered that the standard model (listing options, comparing them, choosing the most favorable) is wildly inaccurate, and rarely used. Rather, people tend to make decisions based on analogies and scenarios developed through experience.

This book has huge quantities of interesting information, presented in a slightly scattershot way
First half has good information and ideas on how to help improve training for decision making, but after chapter 7 it starts to loose steam.(view spoiler) ...more
Sep 13, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I'm about half-way through this, and I find it not only interesting but also encouraging, in a weird sort of way.

He talks about how the meticulous analytical decision-making process, where you line up all the options and compare them so you can choose the best one, is not really what people do. In fact, people use their experience-based expertise, intuition, and other methods to make decisions much more quickly, and they are usually better decisions than they would make with the analytical
David Rothermel
May 25, 2012 rated it liked it
I read this due to the recommendation in Thinking Fast and Slow. Klien's work provides a nice counterbalance to Kahneman. This book attempts to unravel how experts make decisions - particularly under time constraints / pressure. The RL stories he uses as examples are informative and his hypothesis that experts don't use "standard problem solving" as modelled by the textbooks in which many alternate solutions are generated and weighed against each other. Klien posits another model in which ...more
Robert Bogue
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It may seem odd but my quest for resources for my upcoming Information Architecture DVD led me to a book on decsions. Hows’ that? Well, Information Architecture is a funny thing. You’ll never know enough about the problem. You’ll always have to make compromises that are at best uneasy. So I wondered how do people make decisions? How could I provide council on which compromises to make, and which to stay away from. My quest lead me to Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions by Gary Klein. I ...more
Sep 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Many studies of how we make decisions treat experience as interference, and seek to eliminate it from the tests. Gary Klein examines how people use experience in high-pressure decision making, such as Fire Fighters, Military Commanders, and ICU doctors. Many of these people say they don't make decisions at all, they look at a situation and simply know what to do. Of course there's something more complex going on here, but people are unable to describe it.

Klein has found good explanations, using
Sources of Power has a lot of valuable ideas, but it is not a very good book. Compared to its content, it is rather long, and it often reads more like a research log.

This results in a very uneven text. There are many brilliant insights to the human decision-making process, but there is also a lot of content that is not very interesting or useful. Some of the findings are rather superficial, and Klein spends a lot of pages describing in detail how he and his colleagues implemented their research
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Gary Klein, Ph.D., is known for the cognitive models, such as the Recognition-Primed Decision (RPD) model, the Data/Frame model of sensemaking, the Management By Discovery model of planning in complex settings, and the Triple Path model of insight, the methods he developed, including techniques for Cognitive Task Analysis, the PreMortem method of risk assessment, and the ShadowBox training ...more