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Book Review by :


What are decisions? Does one need to take a decision at all? Is one capable of taking
perfect decisions? Will it be a right decision, if taken? How can one be a better
decision maker? The author Alan Barker has made an attempt to answer these
questions in his book titled “How to be a Better Decision Maker”.

According to him, a decision maker is a powerful person because he has the ability to bend
reality according to his will and that is a sign of POWER!

A ‘Decision’ is nothing but a process of designing solutions, which results in a course of

successful action and thereby leads to CHANGE!

How then should one design solutions? We act more on human instinct. Human instinct is to (1 of 3)14/02/2009 11:42:47


choose between given alternatives. When we think, we perceive and judge and use our
intuition to choose the alternative. Here, the author tries to help one integrate logic and
intuition for more effective decisions. He has gone on to explain in five chapters what a
decision process is and what kind of thinking it requires.

In his first chapter, he talks of CONSIDERING. This is a process involving three steps:
Identifying the issue, generating genuine alternatives if a solution is not readily found and
eliminating alternatives in order to choose the best one. This process is repeated several times
for a reason and that is to know the CONSEQUENCES. What can the decision lead to?
What else can happen? What will it affect – people or systems? Probable effects are then
ranked and rated to reduce the chances of failure and boost the process of success. The author
tells one to choose the best option in the given circumstance.

In the second chapter, he talks of CONSULTING. Most decisions involve other human
beings. If these people are not involved in decisions that affect them, gaining their
commitment will be difficult. One should consult others before making a decision but retain
the responsibility for the decision together with its consequences, if any. Inviting others to
participate in the decision making process would then mean sharing some or all of the
responsibilities. Here, however, it can either enrich your thinking or endanger the situation.
Consulting others would of course, depend upon the level of their expertise, experience and
authority. This could result in highly risky decisions; therefore, the aim here should be

The third chapter talks of COMMITTING. This is the heart of decision making. One should
have the necessary enthusiasm to see a decision through. Commitment is taking
responsibility to make it happen and making oneself accountable for the consequences. It is
committing to two types of risks – objective risk and emotional risk. Objective risk is
probability of success or failure; emotional risk is anxiety of things going wrong, feeling out
of control and the like. One, however, has to overcome these risks. Here intuition comes into
play. We may choose by intuition. According to the author, there is no correct course of
action. You find a solution that seems most appropriate at that time rather than abandoning
any course of action. It is better to make a wrong decision than make no decision at all and (2 of 3)14/02/2009 11:42:47


allow the situation to drift. If you make a mistake, you can always correct its course.
Learning from mistakes improves performance. Mistakes provide us opportunities to add
value and enhance the quality of our future decisions!

The fourth chapter is on COMMUNICATING. A decision needs to be effectively

communicated down the line especially to those who will be directly affected. The plan of
action needs to be correctly explained. Face to face communication is far better than written
communication. Benefits, costs and implications need to be shared. This will generate
commitment. At the same time, delegation also helps, as it gives people greater job
satisfaction and increases their authority and skills. The degree of commitment will be greater.

The last chapter is on CHECKING. Before considering the next decision, there should be
a process of checking, monitoring the decision taken, and analyzing the effects of the first
decision. It is a learning cycle – execute, review, think and plan. This can improve one’s
performance. Measuring the success and reviewing the decision taken can help one plan the
next decision. Every decision is provisional. We do not know whether it is good or not.
Review puts us in a better position to prepare for future decisions and enhances one’s
decision making skills.


How often do we give a thought to the process of decision making? Our lives are shaped
by decisions. Success depends on the quality of our decisions and the skill in making
them. If we consider the above five ‘C’s, decisions can spell success. However, the
author reminds us that there is no such thing as the “perfect decision”. One can never
guarantee that every decision made will be ‘right the first time’. But we can truly be
better decision makers by “finding solutions and the test of any such solution lies in its

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