Select Page

Decision Coaching

Foundations of Decision Analysis by Professors Ron Howard and Ali Abbas.

This book should be in the library of every decision engineer, management consultant, strategic planner, and executive.  It is a monumental work. We should all be grateful that it has finally arrived! It’s about 20 years past due.

Professor Howard has been teaching this highly-popular course at Stanford University for a long time.  The course has changed lives and launched people on rewarding careers in consulting, business, and government. Now the course is available to the world!!

“Foundations” was written to be a textbook. The book captures what Professor Howard and his students have learned about the foundations of decision making in more than half a century of research and graduate-level teaching in the Stanford University Department of Management Science and Engineering.

Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

I was a teaching assistant for Professor Howard’s decision analysis course in the 1970’s. Even then the course was a pivotal experience.  Twenty years after graduate school I was interviewed by a researcher from the National Science Foundation. He was studying the connection between what people studied in school and what they used professionally. I told him that I used what I learned in Professor Howard’s course every day, often all day. The researcher was shocked. I was not exaggerating. How many courses have had that impact for you?

Think about the topics in the first chapter of Foundations: normative vs. descriptive, declaring a decision, thought vs. action, decision vs. outcome, and clarity of action. The first chapter also includes, “What is a decision?” and “What is a good decision?”

Other chapters are the following:

Experiencing a decision. (For those who are familiar with Ron Howard, this is our much loved thumbtack exercise.)

Clarifying Values,

Precise Decision Language,


Handling Uncertainty,


The Rules of Actionable Thought,

Using a Value Measure,

Risk Attitude,

Sensitivity Analysis,

Basic Information Gathering,

Decision Diagrams,

From Phenomenon to Assessment,

Framing a Decision, and


Unknown-4I consider this book to be a sequel to Daniel Kahneman’s, “Thinking Fast and Slow.”  It will be a classic. Buy it, study it, and use it.

The book is available from Amazon. Put your name on the waiting list. It’s probably sold out.


Baker Street posts about twice a month on topics of interest to decision engineers.  If you would like to receive these posts automatically by e-mail, just submit your address here.