Cover image for Decide & conquer : make winning decisions and take control of your life
Decide & conquer : make winning decisions and take control of your life
Robbins, Stephen P., 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall Financial Times, [2004]

Physical Description:
xxiii, 190 pages ; 24 cm
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Call Number
Material Type
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BF448 .R63 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Decide & Conquer brings together all the practical skills you need to make the best possible decisions every day. This quick, concise book identifies every key obstacle to quality decision-making... and shows exactly how to overcome them. Discover how your personality impacts your decision-making... why instincts and experience can lead you astray... how to simplify complicated decisions without oversimplifying them... and much more. You'll use these techniques in your relationships, your finances, your career ... every day, everywhere.

Author Notes

DR. STEPHEN P. ROBBINS is the world's best-selling textbook author in the areas of management and organizational behavior. His books have sold more than two million copies, are currently used by students at more than one thousand U.S. colleges and universities, and are widely read worldwide. Robbins' Organizational Behavior, Tenth Edition (Prentice Hall) is the market leader throughout Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, India, China, and Scandinavia. He is also author of the global best seller The Truth About Managing People... and Nothing But the Truth .

Dr. Robbins holds a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona and has served in management roles for Shell and Reynolds Metals. Currently professor emeritus at San Diego State University, Dr. Robbins' research interests have focused on conflict, power, and politics in organizations, behavioral decision making, and the development of effective interpersonal skills. His articles on these and other topics have appeared in Business Horizons , California Management Review , Business and Economic Perspectives , International Management , Management Review , The Journal of Management Education , and other leading journals.

An avid participant in masters' track and field, Dr. Robbins has set numerous indoor and outdoor age-group world sprint records since turning 50 in 1993. He has won more than a dozen indoor and outdoor U.S. national titles at 60m, 100m, 200m, and 400m, and has won seven gold medals at the World Masters Championships.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Robbins, an academic, provides an everyman's guide to improving the choices that shape our lives, and offers tools for making better decisions. With tips, stories, and quizzes, the author explores the ways we make decisions, from critical to trivial choices, that affect everything we do at home and in the workplace. Who we become (or have become) is largely determined by the choices we make, and the author believes that much of what we call luck is really good decision making. The topics covered include establishing clear goals, understanding rationality, personality tests to provide insight into how individuals make decisions, tolerance for risk and its impact on decisions, controlling emotions, the tendency to be overconfident, and ideas for overcoming biases and errors. We can never be too accomplished at decision making, and Robbins' roadmap gives helpful instruction that will appeal to a wide range of library patrons. This excellent book provides valuable insight. --Mary Whaley Copyright 2003 Booklist



Few issues so widely affect our daily lives as dramatically as does the quality of our decisions. How much you earn, your health status, your relationships, and your overall level of happiness are just a sampling of outcomes that are largely due to decisions you've made. In spite of the importance of making good decisions, few of us have had any formal training in the process. You couldn't graduate from high school without classes in English, math, science, government, and history, but did you have any courses in decision making? Probably not. If you want to be good at cooking, you take courses in cooking. The same is true for drawing, doing financial analysis, or healing the sick. Most of us even took a formal class in typing to develop our proficiency for such a mundane task as key-boarding. But, for some reason, it's just assumed that, through practice and experience, all of us can learn to be good decision makers. A little observation tells us rather quickly that everyone doesn't make good decisions. Apparently, practice and experience aren't very good teachers of this skill. I, for one, continue to be amazed at the bad decisions some people make. They buy stocks at their peak prices and sell them when they're near their lows. They play slot machines and bet on other games of chance as if there is such a thing as a "hot streak," or they marry a person that they know is wrong for them. (For evidence on this last point, watch some of the daytime talk shows and listen to guests contrive explanations for staying with partners who continually lie and cheat on them.) We know a great deal about how people make decisions and how to improve the process. Unfortunately, this knowledge is not widespread. The purpose ofDecide & Conqueris to change that. Drawing on thousands of research studies, this book translates what experts know about behavioral decision processes into layman terms with heavy emphasis on application. I wrote this book as an everyman's guide on how to improve the choices that shape our lives, and, after reading this book, you will have the tools to make better decisions. What qualifies me to write this book? I've been researching and writing about organizational decision making for nearly 30 years. My textbook on organizational behavior, for instance, is now in its 10th edition and has been read by more than a million students. The behavioral decision-making literature is a fundamental component in understanding organizational behavior. I wroteDecide & Conquerbecause I thought I could bring my "translating" skills to the behavioral decision-making literature and make this literature more accessible to people with a nontechnical background. Keep in mind that giving you the tools to make better decisions is not the same as helping you to make the right decisions. This book is designed to show you the right way to structure and analyze problems. It focuses on the process you use to arrive at your decisions. That's because a good decision should be judged by the process used, not the results achieved. In some cases, a "good decision" results in an undesirable outcome. If you used the right process, however, you will have made a good decision regardless of the outcome. So I can't tell you what to decide, but I can show you how to decide. Unfortunately, because chance events influence outcomes, there can be no assurances that using the right process will result in a desirable outcome, but it does increase that probability. This book has been organized into five parts. Part I argues that decision making permeates everything we do and that all of us need to know the right way to make decisions. Part II proposes that improving your decision making begins by understanding your personality traits and how they shape your decision-making preferences. Part III describes, in detail, biases and shortcuts that many of us use that hinder our decision-making effectiveness. Part IV describes a number of insights that can help you improve your decision making. Part V is a one-chapter brief summary of what you should have gotten out of reading this book. A book like this owes its existence to two distinct sets of contributors. First are those scholars who have studied the psychology of human judgment and decision making and have shared their research with us. The insights you'll find in this book are the culmination of decades of research by hundreds of scholars such as Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, Herbert A. Simon, Baruch Fischhoff, and Paul Slovic. My role here is similar to that played by television news anchors. TV news anchors don't make the news; they just report it. Similarly, I didn't "make" the findings you'll read about in this book; I merely report them. My contribution was to review the thousands of studies that have been done on behavioral decision making and translate them into a form that can be easily understood and used. The second set of contributors are the people at my publisher--FinancialTimes/Prentice Hall. Tim Moore, John Pierce, and Gary June believed in this project from its beginning and have provided me with terrific editorial and marketing support. Russ Hall provided feedback on how the manuscript could be improved, and Nicholas Radhuber was instrumental in managing the production process that turned my manuscript into the book you have in your hands. My thanks to each of you for making this book a reality. Stephen P. Robbins Seattle, Washington Excerpted from Decide and Conquer: Make Winning Decisions and Take Control of Your Life by Stephen P. Robbins All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

I Introduction
1 Decision Making Shapes Your Life
2 The Search for Rationality
3 Why It's Hard to Be Rational
II How Do You Make Decisions?
4 What's Your Decision Style?
5 Are You a Risk Taker?
6 Who Controls Your Destiny?
7 Do You Procrastinate?
8 Are You Impulsive?
9 Can You Control Your Emotions?
10 Are You Overconfident?
11 Understanding Your Personality Profile
III Common Biases and Errors That Most of Us Make (and How to Overcome Them)
12 How Can You Be So Darn Sure About That? Coping with Overconfidence.
13 Never Do Today That Which You Can Do Tomorrow: The Inertia Bias
14 I Want It, and I Want it NOW! The Immediate Gratification Bias
15 Where You End Up Depends on Where You Start: The Anchoring Effect
16 I'll See It When I Believe It: The Selective Perception Bias
17 I Hear What I Want to Hear: The Confirmation Bias
18 Is the Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full? The Framing Bias
19 What Have You Done for Me Lately? The Availability Bias
20 Looks Can Be Deceiving: The Representation Bias
21 Seeing Patterns That Aren't There: Coping with Randomness
22 Gone Is Not Always Forgotten: Understanding Sunk Costs
23 Keep It Simple: The Limited Search Error
24 Losing Your Head in the Heat of Battle: The Emotional Involvement Error
25 Who You Gonna Blame? The Self-Serving Bias
26 I Knew It All The Time: The Hindsight Bias
IV Advice Your Mother Never Gave You
27 Clear Goals and Preferences Make Choosing a Lot Easier
28 Choosing Not to Decide Is Still a Decision
29 Decisions Are Not Made in Isolation
30 All Decisions Aren't Important
31 More Information Isn't Necessarily Better
32 Don't Rehash Past Decisions
33 Successful People Take Risks
34 It's OK to Make Mistakes, or No One Has an Undefeated Season
35 Experience Can Improve Decisions, buthellip
36 Where You're from Influences How You Decide
An Epilogue
37 Summary or Why Ignorance Isn't Bliss
End Notes