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“This excellent book shows how the science of decision-making can be applied to anything…from politics to business to creative art…and therefore the outcome made better. In today’s world of complexity that is a pretty useful guide!” —Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

 “Cheryl Einhorn has given us a practical book providing a wealth of useful lessons for making complex decisions of almost any kind. It breaks down everything from where to look for data and insights to how to make sure you don’t see only what you want to see. This is a book that can be useful for everyone.” ―Atul Gawande, bestselling author of The Checklist Manifesto and Being Mortal

Facing a high-stakes decision can be overwhelming. How can we trust that our own preconceptions and mental shortcuts aren’t directing our attention away from unfamiliar, yet viable opportunities? In her new book, PROBLEM SOLVED: A Powerful System for Making Complex Decisions with Confidence and Conviction (Career Press; April 2017), award-winning investigative journalist and Columbia Business School Adjunct Professor Cheryl Strauss Einhorn shares her AREA Method to help you solve high-stakes personal and professional decisions.

Einhorn has applied the AREA Method successfully for a diverse mix of consulting clients including National Public Radio, the Milken Institute, Kroll, and WorkMarket. In her investigative journalism work, she’s used it to unearth stories for publications including The New York Times, Pro Publica, Foreign Policy Magazine and the Council On Foreign Relations, in addition to her live on-air news analysis at CNBC.

AREA is an acronym that stands for the four stages of Cheryl’s decision-making process:  Absolute, Relative, Exploration & Exploitation and Analysis. Absolute refers to primary, uninfluenced information from the source at the center of your research and decision-making process. Relative refers to the perspectives of outsiders around your research subject. Exploration and Exploitation are the twin engines of creativity, one focused on expanding your research breadth and the other on deepening your understanding of you as a decision maker. Analysis synthesizes and interprets the information you’ve collected.

In describing her step-by-step approach, Einhorn shares with readers:

  • How to hone in on your motivation behind the decision and how to identify what’s most critical for you to feel that the outcome is successful
  • How to avoid relying on faulty intuition and snap judgments
  • How to understand other stakeholders’ incentives and motivations
  • When it’s important to decelerate and pause in the process to refine and re-articulate the progression of the investigation
  • Why it’s important to try to disprove each possible decision and plan for failure
  • How to employ a feedback loop at each stage to show when circling back for more data or analysis is needed

Einhorn walks readers through the AREA Method by describing four real-life scenarios: two high-stakes professional decisions, and two momentous personal decisions, and illustrates how each person navigated the process to end up with a decision that, while sometimes unexpected, led to positive outcomes.

Filled with proven strategies and concrete tools readers can apply immediately for effective results, PROBLEM SOLVED provides a clear sense of how to make sound decisions to reach goals with confidence and conviction.


Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, an award-winning investigative journalist, covers business, economic, and financial news for publications including Barron’s, Pro Publica, Foreign Policy, and The New York Times. As the founder of CSE Consulting, a strategic consulting practice, she applies her AREA Method—initially developed to promote better decision-making in her journalism work— toward the success of businesses and individuals. A Columbia University adjunct professor, she teaches her AREA Method at Columbia Business School, having also taught it at the Graduate School of Journalism. To learn more about Einhorn, please visit