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Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  791 ratings  ·  70 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
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published 2009)
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Nicholas Teague
Sep 25, 2014 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
Oct 23, 2011 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
Marcelo Bahia
Feb 01, 2012 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 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
May 30, 2012 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 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
Leo Polovets
Sep 28, 2011 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 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 ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Autobahn to buying low and selling high is cluttered by mental traps, institutional barriers and questionable theories (CAPM, anyone?). This core read by Mauboussin deals with the first and arguably most important of those obstacles: (faulty) decision-making.

The author has previously written the classic More Than Y ou Know, co-authored Expectations Investing and, of course, a number of thought-provoking articles while a strategist at CFSB and Legg Mason. Like we have noted on this website in
Mike Hohrath
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book as a quick read and introduction to interesting psychological quirks and tricks to use while making investment decisions. Each chapter covers a different tendency of the human brain that could lead to faulty decision making and covers a few core ideas fleshed out by certain psychologists or demonstrated by given experiments.

I'd heard at least half the topics covered, and they were just introduced and explained and demonstrated but it felt each chapter could have been it's
Erik Rostad
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
A book about common pitfalls in decision-making. Fairly quick read with a number of antidotes and references to research studies. Some of the referenced studies were also in a number of other Books of Titans books, so this was yet another book covering a lot of the same topics as the persuasion books. The most beneficial section for me was the one on reversion to the mean. If a company, stock, team, etc is doing extremely well, it's likely due to great skill and a lot of luck. The luck with ...more
Bryn Young-roberts
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Think Twice is an interesting, at times fascinating, read but is never more than a collection of anecdotes from various sources of a similar ilk. The crux of the book is the application of behavioral sciences to decision making, but having been written by an economist it often sidesteps into the realm of numbers, at which point my eyes glazed over and I re-run some classic 90s Simpsons episodes in my head. Fortunately Mauboussin generally takes a light-hearted approach to writing and so much of ...more
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable, relevant, and insightful of you are interested in the nuances that come with making good decisions. It has a balance of research-based and anecdotal evidence that is blended well to help the reader realize consistent flaws that we inherently make in our thinking.
Jonny Eichner
Jun 23, 2017 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.
Olle  Qvarnström
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Decent book on how to avoid the most common pitfalls when thinking. Not much new here for those who have already read a fair amount of books in behavioral finance. If you’re new to the genre, go ahead! If you’re experienced, skip this book.
Heather Larcombe
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Clear advice with good examples.
Julian Bu
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Broke no grounds
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Nothing new really... good as an 101
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Above average in terms of decision making books, but not so much as to have much new information.
Jun 25, 2018 added it
On biases and how to recognise them in your decision making. Pretty concise, nothing out of this world. But always good to read these types of books once or twice a year.
Mar 24, 2017 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 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
Greg Linster
Jan 18, 2013 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 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
Nov 30, 2009 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
Sanjeev Kotnala
Oct 26, 2014 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
Samir Patel
Oct 08, 2016 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
Emil Emilov
Oct 30, 2014 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
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Feb 07, 2017 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.
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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

“In a probabilistic environment, you are better served by focusing on the process by which you make a decision than on the outcome” 0 likes
“To overcome inertia, Peter Drucker, the legendary consultant, suggested asking the seemingly naïve question, “If we did not do this already, would we, knowing what we now know, go into it?”26” 0 likes
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