Krogerus, M. and Tschäppeler, R. 2011. The Decision Book. London, Profile Books.


1.  Eisenhower Matrix


  • Warren Buffet:
    – Make a list of everything to get done today
    – Begin with task on top of list
    – Continue only when you’ve completed it, and when done, cross it off list

2. SWOT Analysis


  • Can be applied to business and personal decisions
  • In addition to listing the above, ask:
    – how to emphasise strengths and reduce/cover up weaknesses?
    – how to maximise opportunities and protect ourselves from threats?

3. BCG Box


  • Cash cows: high market share, low growth rate. Milk them
  • Stars: high market share, high growth rate. Devours money. Invest, hope becomes cash cow
  • ?: high growth potential, low market share. With lots of investment, can become star. Tough decision
  • Dogs: low share in saturated market. Only keep if have value other than financial one (for vanity or favour for friend). Liquidate

4. Project Portfolio Matrix

  • Plot in terms of increasing costs (y-axis) and increasing time (x-axis))
  • Or on budget (y-axis) and on time (x-axis)

Or ‘how much I’m learning from this project’ (y-axis) and ‘how much project is helping me achieve my overriding objective’ (x-axis)
– Reject project: nothing to learn and does not correspond to overriding vision
– Change project to serve vision: if you can learn from it but doesn’t correspond to vision
– Get someone else to do it for you: if project corresponds to vision but you learn nothing new
– Jackpot: if achieve both


5. John Whitmore Model

  • Distinguish between ‘final goals’ (“I want to run a marathon”) and ‘performance’ (helps achieve goal: “I will jog for 30 mins every morning”)
  • Write down goal on paper check if correlates to 14 requirements


6. Rubber Band Model

  • Decision that’s impactful on future: change career? Move to another city? Arguments for and against evenly balanced
  • Ask:
    – what’s holding me?
    – what’s pulling me?

7. Feedback Model

  • Compliment? Things can stay as it is – don’t need to change. Also, is success due to luck, and so do you deserve compliment?
  • Criticism? See what can stay as it is, what needs to change

8. Family Tree Model

  • Draw it. Through whom did a client become a client?
  • Or ask customer (instead of complex questionnaire to find out what customers think about your product): “who recommended this product to you, and who would you recommend it to?” You can identify promoters, passive satisfied customers, critics – ratio of promoters to critics = barometer of success
  • More family trees you have to draw, the more diverse your customer structure
  • Boughs with many branches? Risk of over-concentration, can break
  • No customers? Think about circle of friends/acquaintances: through whom did you meet most of your friends/clients/customers/get your jobs?

9. Morphological Box and Scamper

  • Creative is making new combinations of things. Here, we be structured to be creative
  • “The task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody sees”. – Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Choose a product, like M&Ms
  • List down the ‘parameters’ in it that you’d like to play around with (1. the edible buttons 2. the tube style 3. the cap style 4. the illustrations on tube 5. the logo 6. the font 7. the size/volume 8. the target market/group)
  • Then think of how you can change Parameters 1-8 in the following ways:
    Substitute (the material, components etc.)
    Combine (with other things)
    Adapt (adapt other ideas, other objects, copy something else and add to it, adapt from the past)
    Modify (or maximise, minimise the shape, size, texture etc.)
    Put to other uses
    Eliminate (reduce, simplify, get rid of the superfluous)
    Reverse (or invert, reverse, rearrange)
  • See here and see also ‘thinking outside the box’ in the book, p. 92
  • boxandscamper

10. Esquire gift

To choose a gift, ask, on two axes:

  • How long have you known the person to whom you are giving the gift?
  • How much money should you spend on the gift?
  • Rule of thumb: 1. being generous beats being miserly (don’t be misled by the sentence ‘That really wasn’t necessary’) 2. buy something that you would be pleased to receive as a gift yourself


11. Consequence model

  • In a project, need to be bold with decision-making when finer details are not yet clarified, things are hazy
  • Near end of project, know more, fewer doubts, but nothing key to decide
  • How to bridge doubt and decision?
  • We defer decisions because of doubt. But not making decision is making a decision, an unconscious one, which we do not communicate – leads to uncertainty to team – if want to delay decision, communicate it clearly
  • So be courageous: make decisions with minimal information


12. Conflict resolution

  • Resolve conflict elegantly to prevent deadlock and restore communications. Stable. How?
  • Six ways:
    1. Escape (= avoiding). Things remain the same. No one gains anything. Lose-lose
    2. Fight. Aggressor wants to win by asserting and conquering. Win-lose
    3. Give up (= retreat). Lose-win
    4. Evade responsibility. Overwhelmed? Delegate decision and confrontation to higher up, who might not solve it in the delegator’s interest. Lose-lose possible
    5. Compromise. Acceptable to both. Win-lose/lose-win
    6. Consensus. New solution (‘third way’). Nobody has to back down. Win-win
  • “Our failures are due not to the defeats we suffer but to the conflicts we don’t participate in.” ~ Graffiti on a youth centre in Bern, Switzerland
  • (So to win, either you fight like hell, or try to create a consensus)


13. Crossroads

Helps you find directions in life. Ask:

  • Where have you come from?: How did you become who you are; what are the main decisions, events and obstacles in your life; your main influences? (Education, home, where you grew up). Note down keywords
  • What’s really important to you?: Write the first three things in mind (don’t need specifics/details). What are your values? What do you believe in? What principles are important to you? When all else fails, what remains?
  • Which people are important to you?: Whose opinion do you value? Who influences your decisions? Who is affected by your decision? Who do you like and fear?
  • What’s hindering you?: What’s holding you back from thinking about the really important things? Which deadlines occupy your head, and what’s stopping you? What do you have to do and when?
  • What are you afraid of? List the (i) things, (ii) circumstances and (iii) people that worry you and rob you of your strength

Done? Look at the notes.

  • What’s missing? What issues have arisen?
  • Do they keywords you’ve written tell you the story of how you became who are you are today?
  • If needed, jot down more keywords and questions

Now look at the road ahead. See these six examples. Imagine each one:

  • The road that beckons: what have you always wanted to try?
  • The road I imagine in my wildest dreams, whether achievable or not: what do you dream of?
  • The road that seems most sensible to me, the one people whose opinion I value would suggest to me
  • The road not travelled: one you’ve never considered before
  • The road I’ve already been down
  • The road back, to a place you once felt safe

You decide.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Answer the questions yourself or with a friend. Then imagine the road you could take.



14. The flow model

What makes you happy? Aristotle: above all, people want to be happy. Csikszentmihalyi: if happiness is sought for its own sake, all other goals – health, beauty, money or power – valued because it’ll make us happy. State of feeling happy: ‘flow’.

Happiness, or flow, according to Csikszentmihalyi, when we are:

  • intensely focused on an activity
  • of our own choosing, that is
  • neither under-challenging (‘boreout‘) nor overchallenging (burnout), that has
  • a clear objective, and that receives
  • immediate feedback

‘Flow’ –> not only deep sense of satisfaction –> also lose track of time and forget
themselves –> so immersed in what they are doing –> musicians, athletes, actors, doctors and artists describe how they are happiest when absorbed in exhausting activity –> contradicting happiness = relaxation

What is preventing you from being happy?

Two axes: the level of the challenge, and the level of your abilities.

On the graph, write down the last three challenges you have faced, and how you felt about them.


15. Johari Window

What part of our personality we reveal to the world? A models for
describing human interaction.

Personal awareness into four different types:

A. Characteristics/experiences we are aware of + like to tell others about

B. Know about ourselves but don’t reveal. Decreases in size when build up trust in others

C. Don’t know about ourselves + others can see. And we think we are expressing clearly, but which others interpret differently. Here, feedback can be enlightening but also hurtful

D. Character hidden from ourselves as well as others. We are more complex and multifaceted than we think. From time to time something unknown rises to the surface from our unconscious – for example in a dream

Choose adjectives (fun, unreliable, etc.) that you think describe you well. Then let others (friends, colleagues) choose adjectives to describe you.

The adjectives are then entered in the appropriate panes of the window.

Try this exercise with your partner.

Are there things about your partner that you wished you had never discovered? And what do you wish you didn’t know about yourself?

What do others know about you that you don’t know yourself? The Johari window provides a model of personal awareness.


16. Cognitive dissonance

  • ‘Cognitive dissonance’ (Leon Festinger): state of mind when our actions not consistent with our beliefs
  • Why difficult to recognise our mistakes? Why defend our actions when we are confronted with their shortcomings?
  • Rather than asking for forgiveness, we embark on an unlikeable human attribute: self-justification
  • Acts as a protective mechanism –> enables us to sleep at night + frees us from self-doubt. We see only what we want to see, and ignore everything that contradicts our view. We look for arguments that reinforce our position
  • How can we overcome this dissonance? Either by changing our behaviour or our attitude
  • When were you last aware of a cognitive dissonance in yourself or others?

“A great nation is like a great man: when he makes a mistake, he realises it. Having realised it, he admits it. Having admitted it, he corrects it. He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers.” – Lao Zi


17. Unimaginable model

Models explain how everything is connected, how we should act and what we should and should not do.

But do they prevent us from seeing things for what they really are?

Adam Smith warned against being carried away by a love of abstract systems.

Albert Einstein recognised that models and ‘logical’ systems are ultimately a matter of faith.

Thomas Kuhn argued that science usually just works towards corroborating its models, and reacts with ignorance when models do not correspond to reality.

We believe so strongly in models that they take on the status of reality:

  • Kant’s ontological proof of God’s existence: if can imagine a being as perfect as God, then he must exist [but why?].
  • In our everyday lives: if we are told that humankind is full of greed and egoism, this model of behaviour may be internalised and (unconsciously) imitated


18. Music matrix

What your taste in music says about you:



19. Fashion model

How we dress:

20. Uffe Elbaek model

  • Public opinion barometer
  • Reveals behavioural traits and tendencies

You are always subject to four different perspectives:

  • how you see yourself
  • how you would like to see yourself
  • how others see you
  • how others would like to see you

Don’t think – decide on a scale of one to ten:

  • How much of a team person are you?
  • How much of an individualist?
  • Do you pay more attention to content or to form?
  • What is more important to you: body or mind?
  • Do you feel more global than local?
  • Use a pen to connect the lines
  • With different coloured pen, mark on the scale how you would like to see yourself
  • Define your own axes (rich–poor, happy–sad, extroverted–introverted)
  • Beware! You are only creating a snapshot. Note: sum of axis should be 10 (cannot be 10 pts local and 10 pts global)
  • What is preventing you from being the way you would like to be?
  • Fill in the model for yourself. Ask your partner or a good friend to fill it in for you. Compare the results


21. Energy model

Are you living in the here and now?

Pascal Mercier: living in the here and now… “is an error, a nonsensical act of violence, to concentrate on the here and now with the conviction of thus grasping the essential. What matters is to move surely and calmly, with the appropriate humour and the appropriate melancholy in the temporally and spatially internal landscape that we are.”

A non-judgemental question:

  • how much of your time do you spend thinking about the past
  • how much about the here and now
  • and how much about the future?

Or to put it another way:

  • how often do you think, wistfully or thankfully, about what has been?
  • how often do you have the feeling that you are really concentrating on what you are doing at a particular moment?
  • how often do you imagine what the future may hold, and how
    often do you worry about what lies ahead of you?

The three examples shown in the model on the right [?] can also represent cultural values:

  • memory-driven, in nostalgic Europe
  • dream-driven, in the USA, the ‘land of opportunity’
  • and reality-driven, in industrious Asia

You can’t change the past. But you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.

Fill in how much time you spend in the past, present and future.


22. Supermemo model

How to remember everything you’ve ever learned

  • Long-term memory has two components: retrievability and stability
  • Retrievability –> how easily we remember something –> depends on
    how near the surface of our consciousness the information is ‘swimming’
  • Stability –> how deeply information is anchored in our brains –> some memories highly stable, low retrievability. You probably won’t be able to recall one of your old phone numbers –> but see it in front of you, and you recognise it immediately
  • You’ve learned a French word and memorised it. Without practice, over time it will become increasingly difficult to remember. The amount of time it takes for you to forget it completely can be calculated –> ideally you should be reminded of the word precisely when you are in the process of forgetting it –> more often you are reminded of it –> longer you will remember it for –> Super-Memo (Piotr Woźniak)
  • After learning something, you should ideally refresh your memory of it at the following intervals –> one, ten, thirty and sixty days afterwards
  • “It’s not what you know, it’s what you remember.” – Jan Cox



23. Political compass

What political parties stand for

  • ‘Left’ or ‘right’ too simplistic for today’s political landscape
  • Here’s a model for measuring the views and attitudes of voters
  • Plot your political position on this model, the axes of which are left–right and liberal–authoritarian
  • Left–right axis relates not to political orientation in the traditional sense, but to economic policy: left = nationalisation, right = privatisation
  • The liberal–authoritarian axis relates to individual rights: liberal = all rights lie with the individual, authoritarian = the state has a high degree of control over its citizens
  • “Always radical, never consistent.” – Walter Benjamin

UK political landscape at the time of the 2010 general election by


24. Personal performance model

How to recognise whether you should change your job

Measure your job dissatisfaction. Every evening for three weeks, answer (1 – ‘doesn’t apply at all’, 10 – ‘totally applies’):

  • Have to: how much of current tasks being impose on me?
  • Able to: how much of tasks match my abilities?
  • Want to: how much task = what I really want [e.g., makes the spirit fly]?

After three weeks, if shape of ‘sails’ shift/move, job is giving variety. If not, stagnant. Ask:

  • What do you want?
  • Able to do what you want?
  • Ok. What are you able to do?
  • Want what you are able to do?
  • Can’t do something? Work at it!

See also flow model and rubber band model (p. 46, 22).


25. Making-of model

Understand your past to determine your future

Past is future foundation is built on. Instead of ‘how do I imagine future’, ask ‘can I bridge past with future?’

What’s relevant from the past to take to future, and what from past you should forget.

Start with a point in time in the past: e.g., founding of your company, last year, school days. Add the following to the timeline:

  • Who was involved?
  • What were your goals back then?
  • What were your successes?
  • What obstacles did you overcome?
  • What did you learn?

You will learn the importance you attach to your past.



26. Personal potential trap

Why it’s better not to expect anything

Three curves… what are:

  • my expectations of myself?
  • other people’s expectations of me? [Do I even care about them?]
  • my actual achievements? [What do you consider is a great thing/landmark you did?]

Check whether others’ expectations exceeds your actual achievements (trap) in ‘education’, ‘job’ etc.


27. Hype cycle

How to identify the next big thing

To characterise the ‘uber-enthusiasm’ or hype and subsequent disappointment with new tech. Tech may work (email, SMS etc.) but all went through five phases:

  • Tech trigger: on the market, hear about it everywhere (“have you checked out…?”)
  • Peak of inflated expectations: hype at peak, people start finding mistakes (“great, but…”)
  • Trough of disillusionment: product fails to meet expectations, the not-so-cool people use it (“product’s so yesterday”)
  • Slope of enlightenment: hype over, not covered in media, falls out of market, maybe used in different ways
  • Plateau of productivity: benefits clear and accepted, 2.0 etc. version emerges from experimental phase to become a success, you hear nothing more, people simply use it (e.g., emailing, not talked/hyped about anymore, part of normal life)

See also the chasm (p. 114).


28. Subtle signals model

Why nuances matter

With people,  information doesn’t always flow to where it is meant to flow. Depts fight each other rather than support each other. Managers base their decisions on cool- sounding strategies rather than on actual facts. Elliott Jaques: ‘… not one single, well-established concept in the field of management on which you can build a testable theory.’

Why do some teams work well together and others badly? What are the differences between functioning and non-functioning structures? We don’t know. What we do know (journalist Mark Buchanan): communication is vital for a healthy working environment; takes place on two levels: what we say, and how we say it.

MIT’s Media Lab monitored creative teams at a major bank in order to find the answers to these questions:

  • Who is saying what to whom?
  • Who moves when, how often and where to?
  • In what tone of voice is A speaking to B?
  • Who is stressed, who seems to be suffering from burnout? [what might an objective measure of stress and burnout or boreout be, something that can be compared across different people/employees, knowing that different people have different thresholds?]

This is ‘reality mining’. For the bank, it showed those who talked a lot with others and who read a lot of emails – private as well as work-related – seemed to be generally happier and also more productive than those who concentrated only on work.

Who do you talk to most of all? Whose opinion do you value most? With whom do you speak and how often, and what are the consequences of your discussions? Arrange your discussions with colleagues in the matrix:


29. Network target model

What your friends say about you

Could you say who your five best friends are?

And could you say with which five people you communicate the most?

And could you also say what all your acquaintanceships have in common?

Go through your contacts list and divide up your contacts according to the following criteria:

  • who you see and how often
  • which group (friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues) they belong

Go through address book:

  • how many are richer and how many are poorer than you
  • how many are younger and how many are older than you
  • how many do you think are more attractive than you, and how many are less attractive
  • how many are the same nationality as you, and how many are of another nationality

See also family tree model (p. 26)

Insert names of your friends and colleagues and how often you see them. Who would you like to see more of? Who would you refer to see less of?

[I would also rate these people in terms of who is valuable/value-adding/goal-achieving, and who is a useless distraction/stress-relieving, to follow Earl Nightingale]



30. Superficial knowledge model

Everything you don’t need to know. What kind of knowledge do you know?



31. Swiss cheese model

Some people learn from them, while others repeat them. There are different types of mistake:

  • real mistakes – occur when the wrong process is carried out
  • black-outs – occur when part of a process is forgotten
  • slip-ups – occur when the right process is carried out incorrectly

There are various levels on which mistakes occur:

  • skill-based level
  • rule-based level
  • knowledge-based level

And there are various factors that contribute to mistakes occurring:

  • people involved– boss, team, colleagues, friends
  • technical provisions – equipment, workplace
  • organisational elements – task to be fulfilled, timing
  • outside influences – time, economic climate, mood, weather

Causes and effects of mistakes is the human error or Swiss cheese model (James Reason, 1990):

  • In a mistake-free world, the cheese would have no holes
  • In the real world, the cheese is cut into thin slices, and every slice has many holes that are in different places in different slices
  • Imagine holes as conduits for mistakes. A mistake remains unnoticed or irrelevant if it penetrates only one hole in one of the slices
  • Catastrophe if the holes in the different slices align and the mistake passes through all the holes in all of the defences

The model can be used in the fields of medicine and air traffic, for example – and anywhere where mistakes can have fatal consequences.

See also results optimisation model (p. 146).

The illustration shows what happens when mistakes are made on three different levels, and three ‘holes in the cheese’ align: 1. The pilot makes a mistake. 2. The co-pilot reacts incorrectly. 3. While attempting to rectify the mistake, another is made.


32. Maslow’s pyramids

What you actually need, what you actually want

2003 German film Hierankl: three most important questions:

  • are you having sex?
  • do you have a family?
  • are you intellectually
  • scoring three yeses is paradise; two yeses is what you need to be happy, and one yes is what you need to survive

Maslow (1943) published a ‘hierarchy of needs’:

  • physiological needs (eating, sleeping, warmth, sex)
  • security (somewhere to live, job security, health, protection against adversities)
  •  social relationships (friends, partner, love)
  • recognition (status, power, money)
  • self-actualisation (individuality, realising personal potential, but also faith and transcendence)

The first three of these are basic needs. If they are satisfied, a person no longer thinks about them.

The last two are aspirations or personal growth needs; they can never really be satisfied.

The pyramids model becomes interesting if we contrast our aspirations with our needs.
Rule of thumb for the Western world: the things we desire the most are the things we need the least.

Create your own personal basic needs pyramids: What do you have? What do you want?


33. Thinking outside the box

How to come up with brilliant ideas

A really innovative idea – rather than an old idea that has been applied to a new context, or a variation of an existing idea – is rare.

Innovative ideas emerge when:

  • we leave our comfort zone
  • when we break the rules

Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique (REST), which involves a person spending time in a darkened room with no visual or auditory stimulation. Subject didn’t go mad –> blood pressure went down, their mood improved and they became more creative –> a person who wants to think outside the box is better off thinking inside a box.

See also Morphological box and SCAMPER (p. 28).


34. Sinus Milieu And Bourdieu models (developed by Emile Durkheim)

  • Establishing the different socio-cultural groupings to which a person belongs
  • Used in marketing to define target groups
  • Bourdieu’s analysis of cultural consumption challenges us to think about our deep-rooted cultural preferences and practices
  • The narrowness of the Sinus groups is often criticised: true that it cannot answer the question ‘Where do I belong if my father was a bus-driver, my mother a hippy, I am a fashion designer and in my spare time I hang out with my friends from the golf club?’
  • Popularity of the model explained by the lock-in principle: if we get used to something, we don’t want to change our habits, even if we are presented with something new or different that might be better
  • Nearly all market research and market analyses use the Sinus Milieu model despite its limitations
  • Shows us that if a majority have become used to one system, it is difficult for another system to establish itself [only people with great willpower can change/shake things up at will]. Habit is stronger than the desire for improvement

Where would you position yourself? Where would you position your parents? Where would you like to be positioned?


Bourdieu model: Where would you position yourself? Where would you position your parents? And where would you like to be positioned?


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