Why Decisions Fail

Nutt, Paul C.
January 2002
Why Decisions Fail - Business Book Summaries;2002, Vol. 19 Issue 21, p1
Book Summary
Book Summary
The business literature provides many works that profile companies or initiatives that have failed because of a convergence of an unanticipated market, economic, and/or regulatory event and some fatal error involving ineptitude, lack of cohesive strategy, lack of requisite knowledge, inflexibility, corner-cutting, advertising/marketing blunders, etc. Why Decisions Fail goes beyond these missteps, deep into the anatomy of the decision-making process to illustrate how "failure-prone" tactics lead It is an important exploration that illustrates that debacles can be prevented and the attendant losses foreseen and avoided.In his 20 years of studying decisions, how they are made, what works, what fails, and why, the author's key finding is that despite the vast sums spent implementing decisions, organizations only realize benefits half of the time. In other words, there is a 50 percent decision failure rate and, according to the author, these failures can be traced to three specific blunders and seven specific traps that "ensnare decision makers" and lead to disastrous debacles. Because Nutt believes that avoiding these mishaps can cut the failure rate significantly, he offers this book an analysis of the chain of blunders and traps that led to some infamous debacles, including the Firestone Tire recall, the New York City blackout, EuroDisney, the Ford Pinto, the BeechNut Baby Food and Nestle Infant Formula scandals, the Challenger disaster, the collapse of Barings Bank, and the siege at Waco. Using these debacles, Nutt illustrates how common tactical errors and traps can derail the decision-making process and then details alternative approaches that managers in any organization can use to improve their decision-making practices.


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