Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions

Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions

"Most studies of decision-making treat humans like rats in a laboratory. But Dr. Klein, a cognitive psychologist, spent a decade watching fire commanders, fighter pilots, paramedics and others making split-second decisions on the job, and this book is a clear and engaging account of his findings." -- "The Wall Street Journal" Anyone who watches the television news has seen...

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Title:Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions
Author:Gary Klein
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Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions Reviews

  • David Bowles

    Excellent book. Don't get hung up on the title. Understand the value of experience and trusting your gut.

  • Way

    This is a fascinating book that explores the cognitive processes and methodologies involved in "naturalistic decision making" made by experts. Essentially, this means time- and stress-pressured decisions made by people in high-intensity occupation like tank platoon commanders, pilots, firefighters, neonatal nurses, nuclear facility engineers, and more.

    The book, which can occasionally be a little difficult to get through, has beautiful nuggets of information spread throughout that deal with the w

    This is a fascinating book that explores the cognitive processes and methodologies involved in "naturalistic decision making" made by experts. Essentially, this means time- and stress-pressured decisions made by people in high-intensity occupation like tank platoon commanders, pilots, firefighters, neonatal nurses, nuclear facility engineers, and more.

    The book, which can occasionally be a little difficult to get through, has beautiful nuggets of information spread throughout that deal with the way we process information and think about decisions. Key takeaways were: the idea that in intense situations, we are almost -never- rationally making decisions, but using recognition to see familiar situations and come up with decisions almost instantly; we "satisfice", meaning that we think of options and then eliminate them until we find one that's good enough to work; we operate rapid mental simulations in order to extrapolate into the future, but a strong sense of consistency and reality are necessary to use these tools effectively; and, among other things, we can get overly good at recognizing situations to the point we miss subtle elements that clue us off to the fact that these are in fact, different.

    I didn't expect this book to range into my interests so much, but I found it suddenly discussing the work of software engineers, application/system design, exploring the way that teams effectively reflect the mind of individuals, and how to effectively communicate intent and guide collaborative decision making processes. A worthy book.

  • Nikky

    is the kind of work that should be required reading for anyone who has to deal with people on a daily basis. Since almost all of us deal with people making decisions daily, that means almost all of us should read this book.

    Klein explores the various methods we use to make decisions when we have both expert and non-expert knowledge in a particular field. Along the way, he addresses group thinking processes, communicating intent effectively, and other cognitive findings while bril

    is the kind of work that should be required reading for anyone who has to deal with people on a daily basis. Since almost all of us deal with people making decisions daily, that means almost all of us should read this book.

    Klein explores the various methods we use to make decisions when we have both expert and non-expert knowledge in a particular field. Along the way, he addresses group thinking processes, communicating intent effectively, and other cognitive findings while brilliantly illustrating them with "stories" culled directly from his experience with firefighters, military commanders, and other high-risk professions.

  • Robert

    This is a book very much along the lines of Blink by Malcolm Gladwell but in my opinion it dives deeper into the understanding of how people actually make decisions. Gladwell's book is certainly very interesting and highly recommended but this book is probably for those that wish to take the next step in their understanding of the decision process.

    The book is easy to read and very engaging. It provides real world examples of how good and bad decision were made and the processes behind these. It

    This is a book very much along the lines of Blink by Malcolm Gladwell but in my opinion it dives deeper into the understanding of how people actually make decisions. Gladwell's book is certainly very interesting and highly recommended but this book is probably for those that wish to take the next step in their understanding of the decision process.

    The book is easy to read and very engaging. It provides real world examples of how good and bad decision were made and the processes behind these. It shows how people that make decisions under extreme stress and time constraints do so based not only on their experiences but by using other techniques to cope with the situation faced. It demonstrates how intuition and simulation play a key role in effective decision making processes and how important non-linear thinking can be.

    If you are at all interested in the process of decision making and how experienced people are able to make good decisions under pressure then this book is for you. If you are looking for a deeper treatment of the concepts and examination of decision making, beyond books like Blink, then this certainly is the book for you. It is probably not a book that you can completely digest in on reading. I believe, like most good reference books, it is something that you need to revisit on a regular basis as your experiences grow. It should then start help you filling in the pieces as to the decision making process.

    An excellent read and something that should be added to the shelf of anyone looking to understand and make better decisions.

  • Nazrul Buang

    BOOK REVIEW: Finally finished reading "Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions" (1999) by Gary A. Klein. Firstly, what made me read this book was that it is referred by Daniel Kahneman in his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow".

    This book is very different from other psychology books because, while most of them are based on cognitive psychology and scientifically tested in controlled labs, Klein is against all that and the contents are based on applied psychology and empirically observed in real-l

    BOOK REVIEW: Finally finished reading "Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions" (1999) by Gary A. Klein. Firstly, what made me read this book was that it is referred by Daniel Kahneman in his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow".

    This book is very different from other psychology books because, while most of them are based on cognitive psychology and scientifically tested in controlled labs, Klein is against all that and the contents are based on applied psychology and empirically observed in real-life settings (in particular, firefighting, military, nursing and chess games) and he even highlights the shortcomings of his extensive research. This is perhaps THE book to turn to when you want to learn about intuition, mental simulation, experiential learning and imagination.

    Shortcomings of the book? The contents can get too dry and detailed with his observations on his focus groups, and sometimes it describes too much of the observations that readers wouldn't know what to make out of it. Plus, it's hard to visualize his descriptions for a number of parts.

  • Deane Barker

    The result of years of research about decision making. Spoiler: we rarely compare alternative paths of action. Instead, we seize on something we think will work, then evaluate that. If we decide it's unworkable, then we move on to the next obvious option, and down the list.

  • Nicholas

    It was a less entertaining but better version of Blink. A look at what the mind does well instead of how it fails to reflect reality.

    I liked the idea of how experience increases your level of abstraction and thereby lets you build better mental models.

    Same for the idea of balancing goal completion and goal renewal.

    That last quote <=> business?

    Quotes:

    "We have found that people draw on a large set of abilities that are sources of power. The conventional sources of power include deductive log

    It was a less entertaining but better version of Blink. A look at what the mind does well instead of how it fails to reflect reality.

    I liked the idea of how experience increases your level of abstraction and thereby lets you build better mental models.

    Same for the idea of balancing goal completion and goal renewal.

    That last quote <=> business?

    Quotes:

    "We have found that people draw on a large set of abilities that are sources of power. The conventional sources of power include deductive logical thinking, analysis of probabilities, and statistical methods. Yet the sources of power that are needed in natural settings are usually not analytical at all - the power of intuition, mental simulation, metaphor, and storytelling. The power of intuition enables us to size up a situation quickly. The power of mental simulation lets us imagine how a course of action might be carried out. The power of metaphor lets us draw on our experience by suggesting parallels between the current situation and something else we have come across. The power of storytelling helps us consolidated our experiences to make them available in the future, either to ourselves or to others. These areas have not been well studied by decision researchers."

    "If we had started with the one-option hypothesis and only asked questions to elicit data that would support it, we could have been fooling ourselves. People conducting experiments have a certain power over the people being studied. We refer to this as the demand feature of the experiment. If we made it clear that we wanted data to support the on-option hypothesis, some of the people we interviewed might have given us such data."

    "The RPD model claims that with experienced decision makers:

    * The focus is on the way they asses the situation and judge it familiar, not on comparing options.

    * Courses of action can be quickly evaluated by imagining how the will be carried out, not by formal analysis and comparison.

    * Decision makers usually look for the first workable option they can find, not the best option.

    * Since the first option they consider is usually workable, they do not have to generate a large set of options to be sure they get a good one.

    * They generate and evaluate options one at a time and and not bother comparing the advantages and disadvantages of alternatives.

    * By imagining the option being carried out, they can spot weaknesses and find ways to avoid these, thereby making the option stronger. Conventional models just select the best, without seeing how it can be improved.

    * The emphasis is on being poised to act rather than being paralyzed until all the evaluations have been completed."

    "This is the "parts requirement" for building a mental simulation: a maximum of three moving parts. The design specification is that the mental simulation has to do its job in six steps. Those are the constraints we work under when we construct mental simulations for solving problems and making decisions. We have to assemble the simulation within these constraints. Of course, there are ways of avoiding the constraints. If we have a lot of familiarity in the area, we can chunk several transitions into one unit. In addition, we can save memory space by treating a sequence of steps as one unit rather than representing all the steps. We can use our expertise to find the right level of abstraction."

    "Without a sufficient amount of expertise and background knowledge, it may be difficult or impossible to build a mental simulation."

    "In the Fogarty report, the account of the Vincennes during the incident sounds like bedlam, with everyone having a different idea of what the track was doing."

    "In a relatively short amount of time (ten months), decision researchers with no domain experience were able to elicit information and redesign an interface to produce a large improvement in performance. It would have been very costly to achieve a 15 to 20 percent improvement in performance by developing faster and more powerful computers or providing more weapons director training."

    "We also have to be careful not to pursue opportunities too enthusiastically since they might distract us from our more important goals. We have to balance between looking for ways to reach goals and looking for opportunities that will reshape the goals."

    "The pretenders have mastered many procedures and tricks of the trade; their actions are smooth. They show many of the characteristics of expertise. However, if they are pushed outside the standard patterns, they cannot improvise. They lack a sense of the dynamics of the situation. They have trouble explaining how the current state of affairs came about and how it will play out. They also have trouble mentally simulating how a different future state from the one they predicted might evolve."

    "The most typical perspective is that experts know more; they have more facts and rules at their disposal. In this chapter I have taken a different perspective: expertise is learning how to perceive. The knowledge and rules are incidental."

    "Here's what I think we face. Here's what I think we should do. Here's why. Here's what we should keep our eye on. Now, talk to me."

    "Lopes points out that examples such as the one using the letter R were carefully chosen. Of the twenty possible consonants, twelve are more common in the first position. Kahneman and Tversky (1973) used the eight that are more common in the third position. They used stimuli only where the availability heuristic would result in a wrong answer. Several studies found that decision biases are reduced if the study includes contextual factors and that the heuristics and biases do not occur in experienced decision makes working in natural settings."

    "The discovery of an error is the beginning of the inquiry rather than the end. The real work is to find out the range of factors that resulted in the undesirable outcome."

    "In short, our lives are just as governed by superstitions as those of less advanced cultures. The content of the superstitions has changed but not the degree to which they control us. The reason is that for many important aspects of our lives, we cannot pin don the causal relationships. We must act on faith, rumor, and precedent."

    "We will not build up real expertise when:

    * The domain is dynamic.

    * We have to predict human behavior.

    * We have less chance for feedback.

    * The task does not have enough repetition to build a sense of typicality.

    * We have fewer trials."

  • Nelson Rosario

    This is a valuable book on how and why people make decisions. I really liked the book. There are a plethora of stories illustrating decision making processes in a variety of field. Dr. Klein does an excellent job of breaking down these stories and explaining what is really going on. I genuinely feel I have a better understanding of decision making after reading this book. So, why did I give it three stars? The book is too long. Every subsequent chapter builds on the previous chapter, but the val

    This is a valuable book on how and why people make decisions. I really liked the book. There are a plethora of stories illustrating decision making processes in a variety of field. Dr. Klein does an excellent job of breaking down these stories and explaining what is really going on. I genuinely feel I have a better understanding of decision making after reading this book. So, why did I give it three stars? The book is too long. Every subsequent chapter builds on the previous chapter, but the value added seems to diminish as you go on.

    Worth reading.

  • Don

    I'm not really sure how to review this book - imagine you were put in a room and asked 'how do people make decisions' for both crisis situations or planned situations. I would hazard to guess that you would be able to come to the same conclusions much the same way as this book.

    Feeling eerily like common sense, this long study (funded by the Dept. of Defense) makes such propositions that experience plays an important role in crisis decisions....etc. etc.

    I really learned nothing from this book and

    I'm not really sure how to review this book - imagine you were put in a room and asked 'how do people make decisions' for both crisis situations or planned situations. I would hazard to guess that you would be able to come to the same conclusions much the same way as this book.

    Feeling eerily like common sense, this long study (funded by the Dept. of Defense) makes such propositions that experience plays an important role in crisis decisions....etc. etc.

    I really learned nothing from this book and I'm not quite sure why it was written. The case studies are the most interesting part - from firefighting to missile attacks (seeing the military aspect here??).

    If you think it will shed some light on how your brain works in decision processes - skip it.

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