Sources of Power

How People Make Decisions

Anyone who watches the television news has seen images of firefighters rescuing people from burning buildings and paramedics treating bombing victims. How do these individuals make the split-second decisions that save lives? Most studies of decision making, based on artificial tasks assigned in laboratory settings, view people as biased and unskilled. Gary Klein is one of the developers of the naturalistic decision making approach, which views people as inherently skilled and experienced. It documents human strengths and capabilities that so far have been downplayed or ignored.

Since 1985, Klein has conducted fieldwork to find out how people tackle challenges in difficult, nonroutine situations. Sources of Power is based on observations of humans acting under such real-life constraints as time pressure, high stakes, personal responsibility, and shifting conditions. The professionals studied include firefighters, critical care nurses, pilots, nuclear power plant operators, battle planners, and chess masters. Each chapter builds on key incidents and examples to make the description of the methodology and phenomena more vivid. In addition to providing information that can be used by professionals in management, psychology, engineering, and other fields, the book presents an overview of the research approach of naturalistic decision making and expands our knowledge of the strengths people bring to difficult tasks.

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. 1. Chronicling the Strengths Used in Making Difficult Decisions
  3. 2. Learning from the Firefighters
  4. 3. The Recognition-Primed Decision Model
  5. 4. The Power of Intuition
  6. 5. The Power of Mental Simulation
  7. 6. The Vincennes Shootdown
  8. 7. Mental Simulation and Decision Making
  9. 8. The Power to Spot Leverage Points
  10. 9. Nonlinear Aspects of Problem Solving
  11. 10. The Power to See the Invisible
  12. 11. The Power of Stories
  13. 12. The Power of Metaphors and Analogues
  14. 13. The Power to Read Minds
  15. 14. The Power of the Team Mind
  16. 15. The Power of Rational Analysis and the Problem of Hyperrationality
  17. 16. Why Good People Make Poor Decisions
  18. 17. Conclusions
  19. Notes
  20. References
  21. Index