Summary of Judgment Calls

12 Stories of Big Decisions and the Teams That Got Them Right

Harvard Business Review Press, more...

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Judgment Calls book summary
Skilled teams make better decisions than individuals, who are subject to cognitive errors – even CEOs.


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Many executives make decisions without consulting experts, weighing facts, considering options or engaging in thoughtful analysis. They trust their intuition and act accordingly. Such decisions often prove ruinous. Knowledge management experts Thomas H. Davenport and Brook Manville propose an alternative decision-making process – “organizational judgment” – that relies on the collective wisdom, expertise and reasoning of well-informed, collaborative groups. The authors cite case studies of varying strength (some really intriguing and useful; some perhaps not quite as piercing) to illustrate how organizational judgment proves far superior to the “golden guts” of prominent individuals who are subject to the same cognitive biases as everyone else. getAbstract recommends this perceptive analysis to all decision makers and organizational leaders.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why it is problematic for business leaders to make decisions alone
  • Why “organizational judgment” leads to better decisions
  • What kinds of organizations can benefit from this process
  • What trends are emerging in decision making


An Error in Judgment
Superior decisions depend on good judgment. In the past, grand leaders made the big decisions for their organizations. History describes such leaders as “Great Men.” Unfortunately, they often made terrible decisions. Most business catastrophes – such as the recent ...
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About the Authors

Thomas H. Davenport, a professor in information technology and management at Babson College, specializes in analytics and knowledge management. Consultant Brook Manville is the former director of knowledge management at McKinsey & Company.

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    Ian Preston 2 years ago
    "Don't put all you eggs in one basket" might be an old saying but these case studies highlight how true it remains.
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    Patrick Brigger 3 years ago
    Excellent read!
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    Gordon Seymour 4 years ago
    Having the courage and willpower to follow through with collective decisions is vital. Some leaders simply find it too difficult to go with a decision they didn't instigate. Read 'Oracles' by Donald Thompson, for further insight into the power of prediction markets.
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      Kathleen Holiday 4 years ago
      thanks for the suggestion of 'Oracles'. I will check this out.
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    Kathleen Holiday 4 years ago
    Excellent case studies to remind us that making decisions with the help of a team is much better than going it alone.
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      Guest 4 years ago
      I completely agree. I find this practice especially useful in the healthcare industry, as most people seek different opinions prior to choosing a doctor when faced with difficult decisions. This could save the patient a lot of time and money to know that the decision reached was made from a group of doctors and not just one.

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