The Secret Life of Decisions : How Unconscious Bias Subverts Your Judgement book cover
1st Edition

The Secret Life of Decisions
How Unconscious Bias Subverts Your Judgement

ISBN 9781409453277
Published January 11, 2013 by Routledge
216 Pages

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Book Description

Making decisions is a critical part of every executive’s job. However we know so little about the often subliminal processes that shape the decisions we make. The Secret Life of Decisions exposes the unchallenged myths and distortions that impact our reasoning ability, raising our awareness of the many traps we can fall into. Meena Thuraisingham and her collaborator, Wolfgang Lehmacher, have drawn from decades of work with leaders showing that even the most talented leaders and teams can end up making sub-optimal decisions. This is rarely because they had poor critical thinking faculties but rather because they did not pay enough attention to the often invisible traps hardwired into our thinking processes, letting through only information that conforms with our current beliefs, mental models and expectations. This leaves many leaders and businesses exposed. Rather than being the rational output of our reasoning abilities, the authors show decision making to be a highly imprecise process. As decision makers we come to the table armed with our own perspectives, preferences, filters, heuristics and biases, influenced by a broad range of social influences many operating subliminally. The Secret Life of Decisions is an essential read for developing and seasoned executives who have to work through increasingly complex and high stakes decisions. It treats choosing wisely and the thinking involved as a skill, which as with many other skills, can be improved with the guided practice and supporting tools provided here. The journey however starts with awareness that comes from outing the ’secret’ forces that can sabotage the quality of our decisions.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part I The Costs of Biased Judgements and Bad Decisions; Thinking about our thinking; The costs of biased thinking. Part II Defying the Myths, Revealing the ’Secrets’ and Choosing Wisely: Memories can deceive; Experience can trap; Optimism can cloud; Fear can do more harm; Ambition can blind; Attachment can lead astray; Values can mislead; Power can corrupt. Part III Developing Best Practice Decision Behaviour: Best practice decision behaviour; The future of decision making; Index.

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Meena Thuraisingham is an organisational psychologist and runs a niche consulting practice, TalentInvest. She has a career that spans 30 years working and consulting with global companies in organisational effectiveness and leadership development. She is also an accredited executive coach and works with top teams and individual executives to improve board and top team effectiveness. She has authored several papers and bestselling books. Wolfgang Lehmacher is Partner at the global strategy boutique CVA. He has over 20 years of experience in senior management and was President and CEO of GeoPost Intercontinental and member of the Board of GeoPost, the parcel holding of French La Poste. He is currently involved in several start-ups in Europe and Asia and has spoken at the World Economic Forum.


’No executive gets all decisions right. The secret of business success is increasing the number of good decisions while accepting that some of your decisions will be wrong. The framework in this book will without doubt help you get more decisions right than before.’ Giam Swiegers, Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte Australia ’Why do leaders often get decisions wrong? What can you do to make better decisions? Integrating case examples and business experience with research evidence this book skilfully addresses these two central questions and provides clear frameworks to enable effective decision making.’ Rob Goffee, Emeritus Professor of Organisational Behaviour, London Business School, UK ’Ever sat back and asked yourself - why did I make the same bad decision, not once but twice? I wish I'd read Meena Thuraisingham's insightful book earlier in my career - perhaps it would have saved me from myself on those occasions!’ Andy Street, Managing Director of John Lewis and Chairman of the Greater Birmingham Local Enterprise Partnership ’Written with great clarity Meena exposes and analyses the many traps and prejudices that influence the decision making process and hence the outcome. Absolutely essential reading for any student of management and leadership and a very useful guide for any professional with decision making responsibilities.’ Marcel Kreis, Chairman, Credit Suisse Private Banking, Asia Pacific