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Lev Virine (Calgary, AB, Canada)

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The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
by Barry Schwartz
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.85
49 used & new from CDN$ 4.05

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, April 3 2008
Barry Schwartz explores interesting paradox. If we as consumer have a lot of choices, it does not mean that we would be able to make a better decision or be happier. In fact it is often quite opposite. The book is based on strong scientific foundation: psychology of judgment and decision-making behavioral economics. He includes references to Nobel award winning work by Kahneman and Tversky, as well as few other researchers. At the same time The Paradox or Choice is not a dry academic-like book: is it full of amusing real-life examples. What influence our choice? What factors would lead us to make irrational choice? How to measure happiness and satisfaction? How to make trade-off? You will find answers on these and other questions.

Essentially Barry Schwartz uncovers from different points view what we already intuitively know: in order to be happy we don't need to buy more things or more expensive things. We just need to make choices, which will increase our satisfaction. What I took away after reading this book are a few simple ideas, that I can use in my every day life. For example, I will try to base my choices on detailed research rather than the memory of one vivid event. This is not as easy as it sounds as we do not always follow our own rules of decision-making. Barry Schwartz's book helps us to reinforce our intent to make more rational choices.

I highly recommend this book.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
by Dan Ariely
Edition: Hardcover
35 used & new from CDN$ 0.72

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book - controversial, but well founded, April 3 2008
Predictable Irrational is probably one of the most remarkable books after Freakonomics. This is a book about the paradoxes of human judgment. All people, regardless who they are, country they live in, jobs they have, or language they speak, make standard mistakes because our brains work in certain ways. Predictable Irrational is not the first book about such phenomena. My other favorite books on this subject include The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz and Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer. Similar ideas are discussed in number of industry specific books, such as the project management book Project Decisions: The Art and Science.

What distinguishes Predictable Irrational from the rest is very interesting real life examples and descriptions of some psychological experiments. Dan Ariely does not have complex discussions about psychology, instead he uses amusing examples to clearly illustrate his points. My favorite chapter is related to the effect of relativity and anchoring. Why, for example, have salaries of CEOs increased dramatically after federal security regulators forced companies to disclose them? Or, why are people willing to pay ridiculous prices for luxury items, which does cost so little to produce?

We can train ourselves to be better decision-makes. In fact, decision-making is a key life skill. We may be able to overcome the illusions Dan Ariely talks about, by leaning about them. This is not easy as some illusions are quite hard to recognize. However, this does not mean that we should not try. It is like leaning to swim: at the beginning, people are afraid to swim. It is known psychological bias, but then people learn to overcome this bias by a series of drills using proven techniques. For example, I'm sure that when you start comparing prices in department stores, you will recall Dan Ariely's book and make better choices.

I highly recommend it.

Understanding and Managing Risk Attitude
Understanding and Managing Risk Attitude
by David Hillson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 71.29
24 used & new from CDN$ 42.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Must read in project risk management, Jan. 10 2008
In recent years bookshelves (and readers) have groaned under the weight of multiple books on project risk management. It is no easy task to write a book, which is both better than its predecessors and genuinely novel. In both tasks David Hillson and Ruth Murray-Webster has succeeded admirably: this book deserves to become the leader in its field.

I have read many books on psychology and project management. In most cases, they are hard to read: it is difficult to grasp essentials where you overwhelmed with new terminology and research methods. David Hillson and Ruth Murray-Webster have a clear understanding of their principal audience - practicing project managers and write accordingly. Their book avoids overly complex theoretical discussions: the author always has an eye on what a project manager really needs to know.

The authors initially discuss risks and risk attitudes. Essentially risk attitude is a psychological phenomenon. Then the author focuses on two main aspects related to risk attitude. First, how people use psychological heuristics or mental shortcuts when they make choices or assess risks, then the authors discuss the emotional aspects of risk attitude. Understanding and Managing Risk Attitudes is the first book that I have encountered that has detailed discussion on emotional literacy for individuals and groups. The discussion about group risk attitudes, particularly groupthink, is especially valuable: we often do not realize that group risk attitudes can be quite different from that of individuals.

Those with project risk management experience are likely to find a good deal of new and worthwhile information in this book. If you are new to project risk management or just looking to refresh your knowledge of the latest thinking in this field, you should definitely read this book.

The Business Savvy Project Manager: Indispensable Knowledge and Skills for Success
The Business Savvy Project Manager: Indispensable Knowledge and Skills for Success
by Gary R. Heerkens
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 41.28
25 used & new from CDN$ 4.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Best practical guide in project management and business analysis, Dec 7 2007
I'm a project management 'bookaholic' as I buy a few dozen project management books every year. However, I just briefly skim most of them or read a fw chapters and they soon end up in the storage room. Only few books remain on my desk for any long period. 'The Business Savvy Project Manager' is the one of them. And there is a reason for this. This
is not an ordinary project management book, which in most cases are very similar to each other. 'The Business Savvy Project Manager' is probably the best practical guide I have read for managing organizational business on all levels: starting at projects and reaching the enterprise level.

What I especially like about 'The Business Savvy Project Manager' is the strong focus on portfolio management and project economics. While, the book on only describes the basics of discounted cash flow methodology, it provides practical guidelines for modeling project cash flows. Economic analysis and financial metrics are the foundations of successful project management and the book explains how to enable these approaches for
your project.

Another important area of project management, which is very close to my heart, is project decision analysis and risk management. The author explains sensitivity analysis, Monte Carlo simulations, decision tree analysis, and other risk and decision analysis methods that enable project managers to make better choices. How many times do senior managers ask us to write a business case and how many times so we wondering if we are doing it right? The Savvy Project Manager includes clear guidelines for preparing a project business case.

Finally, I'm a strong believer that project management is not only about soft skills, although it is very important. Project management implies strong understanding of economics, decision and risk analysis, metrics and quantitative analysis, and portfolio management. 'The Business Savvy Project Manager' will teach you how to apply these in an easy to grasp format.

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