How Do You Gain Good Judgment?

To govern is to choose… 

That’s literally the root of the word – “to choose”.  Lou Gerstner, largely credited with turning around IBM’s fortunes, said that the decisions he was most proud of were the times when he said “No”.

This axiom plays out in every line of work.  And most organizations those with the power to choose are usually those who have obtained the judgment needed, as generalists, to make those decisions.   So how do you gain good judgment?

I actually asked Andy Ratcliff, of Benchmark Capital that question when He came back to Wharton to present.  He explained that at Benchmark Capital they do not hire analysts or MBA’s because they look for people who can assess the quality of new category creating ideas.  No amount of S-curve formulas and predictive forecasts that MBAs could run up in Crystal Ball and Monte Carlo simulations using Excel could accommodate for the good judgment of engineers and successful entrepreneurs who have successfully launched new category creating companies.  So I rose my hand and asked Andy how one can gain good judgment? His response was interesting and a lesson in my career. He indicated that we should first look to select an industry that is growing at a rate faster than the general economy.   Second that we should identify the company within that industry that is at the forefront of innovation.  He encouraged us to find a way to get into that organization even if we took a position where we might be overqualified.  While that’s not an impossible thing to do, it would be rather challenging.   Then he said repeat that three more times.  Anyone can be lucky once, but to repeat that 4 times in a career demonstrates good judgment. 

What’s your opinion on gaining good judgment?


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *