Give Yourself a Nudge: Helping Smart People Make Smarter Personal and Business Decisions

In his latest book, Give Yourself a Nudge: Helping Smart People Make Smarter Personal and Business Decisions, decision-making expert Ralph L. Keeney, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the Fuqua School of Business of Duke University, hits a home run with a practical playbook for making better personal and professional decisions immediately.

Ralph Keeney is a giant in the field of decision-making. This timely book extends and complements his classic book Smart Choices: A practical guide to making better decisions. He incorporates modern concepts from behavioral economics. This book complements and extends decision analysis-type books such as Decision Quality: Value Creation from Better Business Decisions.

Keeney promotes an approach he calls Value-Focused Decision-Making: develop a decision statement (solve a problem or exploit an opportunity), identify your values (the WHY), re-state your values as objectives (the WHAT), and generate and select creative alternatives (the HOW). He covers in detail practical methods for identifying values, setting objectives, and generating alternatives. This approach alone makes reading the book worthwhile.

He also expands on the importance of identifying decision opportunities (proactive), not just solving decision problems (reactive). Finally, he covers how to influence other’s decisions that will affect you. This section, which leverages behavioral economics, is REALLY important. Again, this alone makes reading the book worthwhile.

There are four skills of a value-focused decision maker:

  1. identify and understand your values for making any decision;
  2. create better alternatives;
  3. identify decision opportunities to improve something you care about; and
  4. influence others’ decisions that can have an influence on your life.

There are six steps in a value-focused decision-making process:

  1. state the decision problem or decision opportunity that you face;
  2. identify your values (the WHY) and state them as objectives (the WHAT), to clarify what you want to achieve;
  3. create alternatives (the HOW) that contribute to achieving your objectives;
  4. describe the possible consequences of each alternative to indicate how well it achieves your objectives;
  5. identify the pros and cons of each alternative and weigh their importance; and
  6. select an alternative using information and insight from your evaluation.

As a physician and public health official I have a deep interest in improving decision-making for my community and profession. I read a wide spectrum of books on decision making. The best books are those that improve daily decision-making for your personal and professional life. This book does just that. Keeney integrates a lifetime of expertise and experience into a readable book that is priceless for the wisdom he gifts to us.

Enjoy, make better decisions, and improve your life and the lives of others you influence.

RATING: 5/5 stars

Tomás Aragón
Tomás Aragón
Health Officer, City & County of San Francisco; Director, Population Health Division

I exercise legal authority to protect and promote equity and health, and I direct core public health services.

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