Bestselling Author of ‘Made to Stick’ Returns to Campus

Dan Heath

We make thousands of decisions every day, but do we really think them through? According to bestselling author Dan Heath, BA ’94—whose hugely popular books Made to Stick and Switch have sparked debate in the business world—our biases and irrationalities can often lead to bad decisions. The good news: there’s a fairly simple way to avoid them.

Heath was at the Blanton Museum of Art Tuesday morning to discuss his new book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. The book hit stores in March and is the latest in a series of business books that Heath has co-authored with his brother, Chip Heath.

Heath used a billion dollar example to illustrate what he calls “narrow framing.” In 1983, Quaker CEO William Smithburg acquired the parent company of Gatorade for $220 million—a hugely successful purchase that would eventually grow into a $3 billion brand. In 1994, Quaker was confronted with a similar choice: Snapple was on the market for $1.8 billion, and Smithburg couldn’t resist. He snatched the brand up, only to sell it for $300 million—a mere 1/6 of the purchase price—three years later. According to Heath, Quaker failed because he used narrow framing. The options had quickly become ‘should we buy Snapple or not’ without weighing any alternatives.

When we unduly limit our choices into binaries like that, Heath says, we do so at the expense of all other options.

So how can we do better? Heath has a handy acronym for that: WRAP. We must: widen our options; reality-test our assumptions; attain some distance before deciding; and prepare to be wrong.

“[It’s a process that] can give us the confidence to make bolder choices,” Heath says. “And bolder is often the right direction.”

Photo courtesy of jdlasica via Flickr Creative Commons.


Tags: , , , , , , ,


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment