The Art of Critical Decision Making

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptional overview Having led large, complex organizations for the past 39 years I found many aspects of this broad overview examining how organizations, across multiple levels, make or fail to make optimal decisions. Knowing the traps, setting the tone and environmental factors, deciding how to decide are all essential leadership tools.
Date published: 2020-04-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Removed from Library to be an Audible exclusive I can't access this class anymore in my digital streaming and audible wants me to buy it again. You suck!
Date published: 2019-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent detail and examples This course exemplifies critical thinking in the decision making process as it examines common issues in decision making and exores each theory with depth and breadth.
Date published: 2018-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Concise and stellar Professor Roberto is in the enviable position of describing in detail case studies in decision-making that he personally researched. He covers arguably the most significant decision failures in 20th century U.S. history. Clear, interesting, fair, well-argued, his lectures show a sincere fascination with, and commitment to, understanding how we can all become better decision makers. One glaring exception, and it is unmistakable: He uses the lectures as offered in The Great Courses as a marketing vehicle for the Harvard Business School, his alma mater. He uses the research of a wide variety of scholars, but he never mentions their affiliations unless he can attach an Ivy League name. Columbia Business School and Wharton are mentioned maybe once each, but no other university affiliations make the cut. There are literally so many references to the Harvard Business School that I lost count after the first few lectures. It was so glaring that I can only assume that he was in some way paid to advance the reputation of the Harvard Business School. If you are not aware of the top business schools in the U.S., you could easily assume that every advance in decision-making theory has come from Harvard. Super-weird given the open tone of the course.
Date published: 2017-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Course Even with formal MBA education, I still found value of the course.
Date published: 2017-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent intro, has served me well over years Writing this review 3 years later is my testimony to the daily utility of this course. I am a physician engaged in several leadership positions in my hospital system, I took this course to better understand how to approach decisions. Dr. Roberto presents this material in a truly engaging manner, making you think and inspiring you to consider better ways of approaching decisions. The lectures do not sound read, he is speaking to us directly. The material is truly classic and the lectures motivated me to read several of the landmark books that he summarizes in the lecture material. I heard the whole series on my car CD player and did not need any other material to enjoy the course. In order to truly use the material I found it best to repeat lectures until I owned the knowlege and was able to repeat it. If you are involved in making any decisions of consequence, you cannot go wrong investing in this course.
Date published: 2017-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Overview of Decision Making The professor does a really great job of drawing from many US historical examples of poor and good decisions including from NASA, to present day CEO's to past presidents. Based on this course in decision making I have been able to apply many of his examples and findings into my daily work when I am managing or leading teams. He has a nice bibliography that he cites throughout the course, uses storytelling to get his point across and overall provides a comprehensive overview of decision making and what are elements that you can use to help make better decisions. Very applicable to anyone in business.
Date published: 2015-10-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Some good content but repetitive I found this course repetitive and did not finish it. I even let it sit for a few months and tried to finish again - I just couldn't. It appears to me the Professor Roberto put this course together and came up with about 14 lectures but then realized he signed a contract for 24 lectures. Rather than doing some editing and coming up with a great 12 lecture class, he just keeps repeating himself until he filled 24 lectures. The speed and repetition might be fine for 17-18 year olds, but is too slow for adult learners.
Date published: 2015-05-31
  • y_2020, m_9, d_20, h_15
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.12
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_12, tr_91
  • loc_en_CA, sid_5932, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 3.47ms
The Art of Critical Decision Making
Course Trailer
Making High-Stakes Decisions
1: Making High-Stakes Decisions

Examine the myth that bad decisions are most often made by bad leaders. Professor Roberto uses the examples of the Challenger disaster, the Bay of Pigs invasion, and Daimler's acquisition of Chrysler to uncover why good leaders can make bad decisions if the decision-making process they use is flawed.

32 min
Cognitive Biases
2: Cognitive Biases

Using the story of the tragedies on Mount Everest in 1996, Professor Roberto introduces you to three cognitive biases that play a role in bad decision making: sunk-cost effect, overconfidence bias, and recency effect.

30 min
Avoiding Decision-Making Traps
3: Avoiding Decision-Making Traps

Explore more decision-making traps you can fall into if you're not aware of them, such as confirmatory bias, anchoring bias, attribution error, illusory correlation, hindsight bias, and egocentrism. Darwin avoided confirmatory bias by keeping a separate record of observations that contradicted his theory of evolution.

31 min
Framing-Risk or Opportunity?
4: Framing-Risk or Opportunity?

The way you or others frame a problem or decision can have a significant impact on the choices you make. Understand why framing a decision in terms of what you have to lose causes you to take more risks.

31 min
Intuition-Recognizing Patterns
5: Intuition-Recognizing Patterns

Discover how to use intuition as a powerful tool in decision making when combined with rational analysis and acknowledge the cognitive processes that are part of our intuition. Professor Roberto recounts case studies from firefighting, health care, and the video game industry to explain the potential and pitfalls of intuition.

32 min
Reasoning by Analogy
6: Reasoning by Analogy

Learn how the Korean War differed from the threat of Adolf Hitler. Professor Roberto explains reasoning by analogy and how you can use analogies to make sense of a complex problem. At the same time, we must avoid the common tendency to overstate the similarities of one situation to another and overlook key differences.

32 min
Making Sense of Ambiguous Situations
7: Making Sense of Ambiguous Situations

We might like to think that we carefully examine our choices before we make a decision. However, we often do the reverse-make a decision and then figure out why, and base future decisions on how we made sense of other decisions. This process, called sense-making by Karl Weick, constantly influences our behavior.

29 min
The Wisdom of Crowds?
8: The Wisdom of Crowds?

This lecture includes examples from game shows such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and from the business world that demonstrate the usefulness of decision making by groups and the potential problems if group members are not fully engaged....

32 min
Groupthink-Thinking or Conforming?
9: Groupthink-Thinking or Conforming?

Discover why even diverse groups can make bad decisions if members are not able to express divergent opinions. This lecture focuses on how groupthink led to the Bay of Pigs invasion.

31 min
Deciding How to Decide
10: Deciding How to Decide

After the Bay of Pigs failure, President Kennedy and his advisors reflected on their mistakes and created a new process for group discussion and decision making to prevent future groupthink and promote diverse perspectives. Here, Professor Roberto introduces the concept of developing a decision-making process.

30 min
Stimulating Conflict and Debate
11: Stimulating Conflict and Debate

Learn how constructive conflict can lead to new insights and stronger decisions. Discover four methods to stimulate useful debate: role plays, mental simulation techniques, creating a point-counterpoint dynamic, and applying diverse conceptual models and frameworks.

30 min
Keeping Conflict Constructive
12: Keeping Conflict Constructive

Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for conflict to become unproductive. Understand how to look for and eliminate dysfunctional conflict to cultivate effective teams. This lecture includes cases on Sid Caesar's comedy writing team, health care, and the nonprofit sector.

31 min
Creativity and Brainstorming
13: Creativity and Brainstorming

IDEO is one of the world's leading product design firms, expert in developing creative and innovative products for many industries. What makes their process so effective? To help you understand their formula at work, Professor Roberto describes an experiment in which IDEO staff worked to design a new product in just one week.

32 min
The Curious Inability to Decide
14: The Curious Inability to Decide

Often as individuals or in groups we become paralyzed by indecision-unable to commit to one path or another. This lecture examines three modes of indecision in groups: "the culture of yes, the culture of no, and the culture of maybe."

30 min
Procedural Justice
15: Procedural Justice

Using case studies about Daimler Chrysler and an aerospace and defense firm, Professor Roberto explains the challenge of building consensus among team members once a decision has been made so everyone will work together to implement it.

31 min
Achieving Closure through Small Wins
16: Achieving Closure through Small Wins

To move forward through the brainstorming and decision-making processes, groups must find intermediate moments of agreement that Karl Weick calls "small wins." This lecture looks at how teams achieve closure through small wins, using cases about D-Day, Social Security, and the CEO of Corning.

31 min
Normal Accident Theory
17: Normal Accident Theory

Discover how organizational culture and structure affect decision making by individuals and groups. Learn about the Three Mile Island accident to understand what went wrong in that system, and understand how catastrophes more often stem from a domino chain of bad decisions rather than one wrong choice.

30 min
Normalizing Deviance
18: Normalizing Deviance

The tragic explosion of the Challenger space shuttle was likely the result of a flawed culture at NASA. The repeated and increased tolerance of questionable data and decisions ultimately led to a large-scale failure. How can leaders reform such cultures?

31 min
Allison's Model-Three Lenses
19: Allison's Model-Three Lenses

Learn Graham Allison's approach to examine decision making through three lenses. Use Allison's model to explore the Cuban Missile Crisis from the individual and cognitive perspective, the group dynamics view, and the vantage point of organizational politics and bargaining.

31 min
Practical Drift
20: Practical Drift

Uncover why organizations make decisions that contradict their own rules and regulations. The concept of practical drift explains this phenomenon, as you see by studying a military friendly-fire case from 1994.

31 min
Ambiguous Threats and the Recovery Window
21: Ambiguous Threats and the Recovery Window

When a threat is ambiguous, organizations are likely to minimize the possible risks. Look again at NASA but this time at the Columbia space shuttle accident, 17 years after the Challenger explosion, to understand how conditions changed or stayed the same in that culture.

32 min
Connecting the Dots
22: Connecting the Dots

Often in large organizations, no one individual can see or understand all the elements at the same time. Great organizations integrate various pieces to see the big picture. Discover how failure to connect the dots led to an inability to recognize the extent of the threat of a terrorist attack on American soil and therefore a lack of appropriate action before September 11.

30 min
Seeking Out Problems
23: Seeking Out Problems

Explore how complex, high-risk organizations succeed by focusing on the possibility of failure. Leaders at these organizations proactively look for problems rather than ignore red flags. Also, learn how Toyota's application of these principles has contributed to its success.

30 min
Asking the Right Questions
24: Asking the Right Questions

Examine the trend of leaders moving from making decisions themselves to focusing on how decisions are made by everyone in their organizations. Smart leaders, as you discover, ask the right questions to glean the collective wisdom of their colleagues and staffs.

30 min
Michael A. Roberto

Intellectual curiosity and the desire to learn are wonderful gifts.


Harvard Business School


Bryant University

About Michael A. Roberto

Dr. Michael A. Roberto teaches leadership, managerial decision making, and business strategy as the Trustee Professor of Management at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island. He joined the faculty at Bryant University after teaching at Harvard Business School for six years. Previously, Professor Roberto was a Visiting Associate Professor at New York University's Stern School of Business. Professor Roberto earned an M.B.A. with High Distinction and a D.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He brings real-world business skills to the classroom from his years of consulting at and teaching in the leadership development programs of a number of firms, including Apple, Walmart, Morgan Stanley, Coca-Cola, Federal Express, and Johnson & Johnson. Recognized for his research, writing, and teaching, Professor Roberto has earned several coveted teaching awards, including the Outstanding M.B.A. Teaching Award from Bryant University and Harvard University's Allyn A. Young Prize for Teaching in Economics. Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer, his book about cultivating constructive debate to help leaders make better decisions, was named one of the top 10 business books of 2005 by The Globe and Mail. His most recent book is Know What You Don't Know: How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen.

Professor Roberto participated in The Great Courses Professor Chat series. Read the chat to learn more about business strategy

Also By This Professor