• The WRAP process described below is from Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, the bestselling book by Chip and Dan Heath.

  • Four steps, villains, and solutions.

    Make better decisions.

    Each step in decision-making has a “villain” from our flawed brains, which we can counteract using specific techniques. The result is a four-step process to better decisions.

  • Step 1. You encounter a choice.

    Villain: But narrow framing makes you miss options.

    Solution: Widen your options.

    Adding just a few more options, especially to “whether or not” decisions, vastly improves the result. There are specific tricks you can use to see options you are blind to. No one is immune to this, from teenagers to multi-national corporations.

  • Step 2. You analyze your options.

    Villain: But the confirmation bias leads you to gather self-serving information.

    Solution: Reality-test your assumptions.

    Confirmation bias is the act of hunting for information that confirms our assumptions. We are very good at making patterns and stories that fit our beliefs. There are techniques you can use to gather more reliable information.

  • Step 3. You make a choice.

    Villain: But short-term emotion will often tempt you to make the wrong one.

    Solution: Attain distance before deciding.

    Our most important decisions often contain a great deal of emotion. Emotion is important, but short-term emotion can cloud our judgement, hence the expression “sleep on it”. When facing a truly agonizing decision, there are tricks you can use to gain perspective.

  • Step 4. Then you live with it.

    Villain: But you’ll often be overconfident about how the future will unfold.

    Solution: Prepare to be wrong.
    Despite this process, the future is always uncertain so we need to prepare. This involves imagining a range of outcomes, from terrible to great, and preparing for all of them. Also setting tripwires to prevent autopilot and allow us to reevaluate.

  • Widen your Options

    • Be wary of “whether or not” decisions… there are always more options.
    • Think about opportunity cost.
    • What if your current options disappeared… what would you do?
    • Try multitracking (consider more than one option simultaneously).
    • Beware “fake” options: if no one on the team disagrees with an option, it is a fake option.
    • Try for “this AND that” rather than “this OR that”
    • Find someone who’s solved your problem (look outside, look inside)
    • Use a playlist to help generate new options.
  • Reality-test your Assumptions

    • We seek out information that supports what we already believe.
    • Spark constructive disagreement.
    • Ask probing, disconfirming questions (unless there is a power dynamic).
    • Force yourself to consider that the opposite is true.
    • Test your assumptions with a “deliberate mistake”.
    • Trust averages, and seek reviews.
    • Try to see it from the outside. Your close perspective clouds judgement.
    • If you can’t find “base rates” or averages, ask an expert.
    • Combine your data & averages with a few closeups, for texture.
    • Ooching = running small experiments to test our theories. Why predict when you can know.
  • Attain distance before deciding

    • Avoid emotionally laden situations if possible (don’t make a car buying decision under pressure from a salesman).
    • Think about how you’d feel about your decision 10 minutes/10 months/10 years from now.
    • Emotions are affected by mere exposure: we like what’s familiar to us.
    • Emotions are affected by loss aversion: we had to lose more than we love to gain.
    • Combined, loss aversion and mere exposure lead to status-quo bias.
    • Look at the situation from an observer’s point of view (what would our successors do?).
    • “What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?”
    • Agonizing decisions are often a sign of conflict among your core priorities.
    • Identify and enshrine your core priorities to ease future dilemmas.
    • Establishing core priorities is only effective if they are actively pursued.
    • Go on the offense against lesser priorities. Make a “stop-doing” list.
  • Prepare to be wrong

    • The future is not a “point” to predict, it’s a range. We predict more accurately in ranges than in points.
    • Make a “premortem” to prepare for the worst. “It’s a year from now. Our decision has failed utterly. Why?”
    • Make a “preparade” to prepare for the best. “It’s a year from now. Our decision has succeeded fantastically. Will we be ready for success?”
    • Include a “safety factor” to prepare for what can’t be foreseen.
    • Anticipate & simulate future problems to prepare for them.
    • Set a tripwire to reevaluate past decisions and prevent autopilot.
  • Whether or Not

    If you are trying to decide “whether or not” to do something, stop.
    There are always more options, and adding even a single new option makes a big difference.

  • Opportunity Cost

    When deciding between options, be explicit about what you’re giving up in each choice. If you’re deciding between a $1000 dollar computer and a $700 dollar computer, you’ll sway back and forth.

    But simply asking “Would you want a $1000 computer, or a $700 computer and $300 worth of games?” the choice somehow seems different.

  • Vanishing Options Test

    Come up with more options by asking:

    What would you do if you couldn’t do any of the options you are currently considering?

    If you answer honestly, this trick works very well.

  • Multitracking

  • True Options

    When you have a set of options, make sure they are actually options, and not just fillers.

    Even presidents have fallen for this. Their advisers present 3 “options”, but two of them are obviously poor choices. That means there’s only one real choice.

    A good way to know if you are considering true options, is if there’s at least some part of yourself, or of your team, arguing for each of the options.

  • AND not OR

    Sometimes the best answer to “should I do this OR that” is to say:

    “Why not both?”.

    Don’t underestimate the power of asking this simple question.
    Think “AND” not “OR”.

  • Find someone who’s solve your problem

    When you’re stuck for options, look to others who’ve solved the same problem. You can either look outward to find solutions, or you can look at your “bright spots”; the times where you did successfully solve this (or similar) problems.

    It’s often the case that when torn in a decision, we forget that it’s very likely this problem (or something similar) has been solved before by someone, somewhere. Talk to those people.

  • Use a playlist

    If you expect to make a certain kind of decision more than once, it helps to create a ‘playlist’.

    A checklist is made to protect against error, but a playlist is a list of questions and actions that you can ask to expose new options.

    You can have checklists for any decision you face more than once:

    • How to cut expenses.
    • How to design an ad campaign.
    • What to write in a blog.
  • Give your options a fair trial

    Once you have options, our tendency is to find confirmation for what we already want to do. It’s critical to use techniques that allow you to really explore these options.

    One way is to spark constructive disagreement. Think of each option being on trial. You wouldn’t consider a trial fair unless there was someone arguing for each option, even the ones you consider bad ones.

  • Keep people on the same side

    One way to prevent these disagreements from becoming position-taking, is to ask

    “What would have to be true for this option to be correct?”

    That way, two sides can decide on the objective truths that would convince them of a given option.

    For example, executives of a mining company considered the closure of a struggling mine, and the mine managers did not want it closed. Instead of arguing who is right, they decided to ask:

    • “What would have to be true for closing the mine to be the best option?”
    • “What would have to be true for keeping it open to be the best option?”

    This technique creates a list of facts that need to be gathered, and how those facts eliminate or select the best options.

  • Zoom out

  • Zoom in

  • Ooch

    To “ooch” is to dip your toe into something, to try it out. The idea is not to move incrementally forward. The idea is to test the waters on a few options.

    Once this testing is complete, though, a decision has to be made. The next step after ooching is to leap, not to continue to move forward incrementally.

    This works well because we are terrible at predicting the future, so it’s best to try something, even on a small scale and for a short time, than to try to predict.

    This does not work well for emotional decisions that require commitments.

  • 10/10/10 Rule

    We are often too focused on our present emotions with a difficult decision. A simple way to get some perspective is to ask yourself:

    “Imagine that right now, you resolve to take this path. How would you feel about your decision 10 minutes from now?”

    Repeat this, but for “10 months” and “10 years from now”.
    Done right, this trick can give you the feeling of hindsight, without having to wait.

    You may discover that you’d feel relieved 10 minutes later, that 10 months later there might be a big upside and no downside, and that 10 years later there is no chance that you’d regret taking this path. But with all the short-term emotions getting in the way, you wouldn’t see this “no-brainer” option.

{"cards":[{"_id":"336c3123313906a3cc000044","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1,"position":0.5,"parentId":null,"content":"*The WRAP process described below is from [Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work](http://www.amazon.com/Decisive-make-better-choices-ebook/dp/B009JU6UPG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374763088&sr=8-1&keywords=decisive), the bestselling book by [Chip and Dan Heath](http://heathbrothers.com).*"},{"_id":"336c21aa313906a3cc000043","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1718305,"position":1,"parentId":null,"content":"# Four steps, villains, and solutions.\nMake better decisions.\n\nEach step in decision-making has a \"villain\" from our flawed brains, which we can *counteract* using specific techniques. The result is a four-step process to better decisions."},{"_id":"336c4de2313906a3cc000045","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1718365,"position":1,"parentId":"336c21aa313906a3cc000043","content":"## Step 1. You encounter a choice.\n**Villain**: But *narrow framing* makes you miss options.\n\n**Solution**: Widen your options.\n\nAdding just a few more options, especially to \"whether or not\" decisions, vastly improves the result. There are specific tricks you can use to see options you are blind to. No one is immune to this, from teenagers to multi-national corporations."},{"_id":"336c6cef313906a3cc000058","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":2873486,"position":1,"parentId":"336c4de2313906a3cc000045","content":"### **W**iden your Options\n- Be wary of \"whether or not\" decisions... there are always more options.\n- Think about opportunity cost.\n- What if your current options disappeared... what would you do?\n- Try multitracking (consider more than one option simultaneously).\n- Beware \"fake\" options: if no one on the team disagrees with an option, it is a fake option.\n- Try for \"this AND that\" rather than \"this OR that\"\n- Find someone who's solved your problem (look outside, look inside) \n- Use a playlist to help generate new options."},{"_id":"386ab0a98ea8e52893000142","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1568093,"position":1,"parentId":"336c6cef313906a3cc000058","content":"#### Whether or Not\nIf you are trying to decide \"whether or not\" to do something, **stop**.\nThere are *always* more options, and adding even a single new option makes a big difference."},{"_id":"386ab0e18ea8e52893000143","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1564326,"position":2,"parentId":"336c6cef313906a3cc000058","content":"#### Opportunity Cost\nWhen deciding between options, be *explicit* about what you're giving up in each choice. If you're deciding between a $1000 dollar computer and a $700 dollar computer, you'll sway back and forth.\n\nBut simply asking \"Would you want a $1000 computer, or a $700 computer *and* $300 worth of games?\" the choice somehow seems different."},{"_id":"386ab1458ea8e52893000144","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1564317,"position":3,"parentId":"336c6cef313906a3cc000058","content":"#### Vanishing Options Test\nCome up with more options by asking:\n> What would you do if you couldn't do *any* of the options you are currently considering?\n\nIf you answer honestly, this trick works **very** well."},{"_id":"386ab19a8ea8e52893000145","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1568210,"position":4,"parentId":"336c6cef313906a3cc000058","content":"#### Multitracking\n"},{"_id":"386ab1c48ea8e52893000146","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1568295,"position":5,"parentId":"336c6cef313906a3cc000058","content":"#### True Options\nWhen you have a set of options, make sure they are actually options, and not just fillers.\n\nEven presidents have fallen for this. Their advisers present 3 \"options\", but two of them are obviously poor choices. That means there's only one real choice.\n\nA good way to know if you are considering true options, is if there's at least some part of yourself, or of your team, arguing for each of the options."},{"_id":"386ab2038ea8e52893000147","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1568301,"position":6,"parentId":"336c6cef313906a3cc000058","content":"#### AND not OR\nSometimes the best answer to \"should I do this OR that\" is to say:\n> \"Why not both?\".\n\nDon't underestimate the power of asking this simple question.\nThink \"AND\" not \"OR\"."},{"_id":"386ab2658ea8e52893000148","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1574327,"position":7,"parentId":"336c6cef313906a3cc000058","content":"#### Find someone who's solve your problem\nWhen you're stuck for options, look to others who've solved the same problem. You can either look outward to find solutions, or you can look at your \"bright spots\"; the times where you did successfully solve this (or similar) problems.\n\nIt's often the case that when torn in a decision, we forget that it's very likely this problem (or something similar) has been solved before by someone, somewhere. Talk to those people."},{"_id":"386ab38a8ea8e52893000149","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1580925,"position":8,"parentId":"336c6cef313906a3cc000058","content":"#### Use a playlist\nIf you expect to make a certain kind of decision more than once, it helps to create a 'playlist'.\n\nA checklist is made to protect against error, but a playlist is a list of questions and actions that you can ask to expose new options.\n\nYou can have checklists for any decision you face more than once:\n* How to cut expenses.\n* How to design an ad campaign.\n* What to write in a blog."},{"_id":"336c507e313906a3cc000046","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1,"position":2,"parentId":"336c21aa313906a3cc000043","content":"## Step 2. You analyze your options.\n**Villain**: But the confirmation bias leads you to gather self-serving information.\n\n**Solution**: Reality-test your assumptions.\n\nConfirmation bias is the act of hunting for information that confirms our assumptions. We are very good at making patterns and stories that fit our beliefs. There are techniques you can use to gather more reliable information."},{"_id":"336c82b970f7d16f3c000044","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1718364,"position":1,"parentId":"336c507e313906a3cc000046","content":"### **R**eality-test your Assumptions\n- We seek out information that supports what we *already believe*.\n- Spark constructive disagreement.\n- Ask probing, disconfirming questions (unless there is a power dynamic).\n- Force yourself to consider that *the opposite is true*.\n- Test your assumptions with a \"deliberate mistake\".\n- Trust averages, and seek reviews.\n- Try to see it from the outside. Your close perspective clouds judgement.\n- If you can't find \"base rates\" or averages, ask an expert.\n- Combine your data & averages with a few closeups, for texture.\n- Ooching = running small experiments to test our theories. Why *predict* when you can *know*."},{"_id":"386bd85b0207af050a0000c4","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1580928,"position":1,"parentId":"336c82b970f7d16f3c000044","content":"#### Give your options a fair trial\nOnce you have options, our tendency is to find confirmation for what we already want to do. It's critical to use techniques that allow you to really explore these options.\n\nOne way is to spark constructive disagreement. Think of each option being on trial. You wouldn't consider a trial fair unless there was someone arguing **for** each option, even the ones you consider bad ones."},{"_id":"4fb0f0f691302aff820000a6","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1580961,"position":1.5,"parentId":"336c82b970f7d16f3c000044","content":"#### Keep people on the same side\nOne way to prevent these disagreements from becoming position-taking, is to ask\n\n> \"What would have to be true for this option to be correct?\"\n\nThat way, two sides can decide on the *objective* truths that would convince them of a given option.\n\nFor example, executives of a mining company considered the closure of a struggling mine, and the mine managers did not want it closed. Instead of arguing who is right, they decided to ask:\n* \"What would have to be true for closing the mine to be the best option?\"\n* \"What would have to be true for keeping it open to be the best option?\"\n\nThis technique creates a list of facts that need to be gathered, **and** how those facts eliminate or select the best options."},{"_id":"386bd89b0207af050a0000c5","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1,"position":2,"parentId":"336c82b970f7d16f3c000044","content":"### Zoom out"},{"_id":"386bd8ca0207af050a0000c6","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1,"position":3,"parentId":"336c82b970f7d16f3c000044","content":"### Zoom in"},{"_id":"386bd8e70207af050a0000c7","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1606990,"position":4,"parentId":"336c82b970f7d16f3c000044","content":"### Ooch\nTo \"ooch\" is to dip your toe into something, to try it out. The idea is *not* to move incrementally forward. The idea is to test the waters on a few options.\n\nOnce this testing is complete, though, a decision has to be made. The next step after ooching is to *leap*, not to continue to move forward incrementally.\n\nThis works well because we are terrible at predicting the future, so it's best to try something, even on a small scale and for a short time, than to try to predict.\n\nThis does *not* work well for emotional decisions that require commitments."},{"_id":"336c5245313906a3cc000047","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1,"position":3,"parentId":"336c21aa313906a3cc000043","content":"## Step 3. You make a choice.\n**Villain:** But short-term emotion will often tempt you to make the wrong one.\n\n**Solution:** Attain distance before deciding.\n\nOur most important decisions often contain a great deal of emotion. Emotion is important, but *short-term* emotion can cloud our judgement, hence the expression \"sleep on it\". When facing a truly agonizing decision, there are tricks you can use to gain perspective."},{"_id":"336c855e70f7d16f3c000045","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":2873487,"position":1,"parentId":"336c5245313906a3cc000047","content":"### **A**ttain distance before deciding\n- Avoid emotionally laden situations if possible (don't make a car buying decision under pressure from a salesman).\n- Think about how you'd feel about your decision 10 minutes/10 months/10 years from now.\n- Emotions are affected by *mere exposure*: we like what's familiar to us.\n- Emotions are affected by *loss aversion*: we had to lose more than we love to gain.\n- Combined, loss aversion and mere exposure lead to status-quo bias.\n- Look at the situation from an observer's point of view (what would our successors do?).\n- \"What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?\"\n- Agonizing decisions are often a sign of conflict among your core priorities.\n- Identify and enshrine your core priorities to ease future dilemmas.\n- Establishing core priorities is only effective if they are *actively pursued*.\n- Go on the offense against lesser priorities. Make a \"stop-doing\" list."},{"_id":"5021fa51779b8ff1be000385","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":1656224,"position":1,"parentId":"336c855e70f7d16f3c000045","content":"### 10/10/10 Rule\nWe are often too focused on our present emotions with a difficult decision. A simple way to get some perspective is to ask yourself:\n\n\"Imagine that right now, you resolve to take this path. How would you feel about your decision 10 minutes from now?\"\n\nRepeat this, but for \"10 months\" and \"10 years from now\".\nDone right, this trick can give you the feeling of hindsight, without having to wait.\n\nYou may discover that you'd feel relieved 10 minutes later, that 10 months later there might be a big upside and no downside, and that 10 years later there is no chance that you'd regret taking this path. But with all the short-term emotions getting in the way, you wouldn't see this \"no-brainer\" option."},{"_id":"336c560c313906a3cc000048","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":2873489,"position":4,"parentId":"336c21aa313906a3cc000043","content":"## Step 4. Then you live with it.\n**Villain:** But you'll often be overconfident about how the future will unfold.\n\n**Solution:** Prepare to be wrong.\nDespite this process, the future is always uncertain so we need to prepare. This involves imagining a range of outcomes, from terrible to great, and preparing for all of them. Also setting tripwires to prevent autopilot and allow us to reevaluate."},{"_id":"336c87a070f7d16f3c000057","treeId":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","seq":2873490,"position":1,"parentId":"336c560c313906a3cc000048","content":"### **P**repare to be wrong\n- The future is not a \"point\" to predict, it's a range. We predict more accurately in ranges than in points.\n- Make a \"premortem\" to prepare for the worst. \"It's a year from now. Our decision has failed utterly. Why?\"\n- Make a \"preparade\" to prepare for the best. \"It's a year from now. Our decision has succeeded fantastically. Will we be ready for success?\"\n- Include a \"safety factor\" to prepare for what can't be foreseen.\n- Anticipate & simulate future problems to prepare for them.\n- Set a tripwire to reevaluate past decisions and prevent autopilot."}],"tree":{"_id":"336c219c313906a3cc000040","name":"Decisive WRAP process","publicUrl":"decisive-wrap-process"}}