The need for the skill of Judgment

The skill of Judgment is the ability to accurately assess people, ideas, and situations–in the face of various emotional pressures and cognitive biases.

Warren Bennis and Noel Tichy have each spent decades studying and teaching leadership and advising top CEOs such as Jack Welch and Howard Schultz. They write this in their book:

“Making judgment calls is the essential job of a leader. With good judgment, little else matters; without good judgment, nothing else matters.”

Below are a few outstanding examples of businessmen displaying sound judgement:

  1. Steve Jobs (deciding to go for exclusive distribution for Apple)
  2. Howard Schultz (closing all US stores to perfect the art of coffee making)
  3. Jack Welch (Rationalizing GE’s corporate portfolio)
  4. Jack Bogle coming up with the counter-intuitive idea of index funds

Interestingly, Judgment is a faculty that is useful in non-business situations too!

For instance, Einstein was able to distill his theory of relativity from all the clutter of electromagnetism prevalent in those days. How? Because, over time, he had developed a sound  judgment of what was essential and what was non-essential. He remarked:

“I soon learned to scent out what was able to lead to fundamentals and to turn aside from everything else, from the multitude of things that clutter up the mind.”

A lot of people have so good judgment skills that they can size up people and situations in just one quick glance (a.k.a. Coup d’œil). Napoleon had this skill.

The gap

Unfortunately, most people today do not fully appreciate the power of the faculty of Judgment.

Below are some observations that make me draw this conclusion:

  1. We don’t train our kids on Judgment. We want the best for our kids. So, we end up taking their decisions ourselves. What to wear? What to eat? How to ride that bicycle? How to play? Whom to talk to? Whether to play with left hand or right hand?
  2. Even our schools also do not help us hone this faculty well. In fact, I was in my engineering when I first heard about decision-making seriously! And then too, since I disliked the teacher, I made the mistake of disliking his teaching too!
  3. Even our standard intelligence tests (such as IQ, GMAT, SAT, etc.) do not measure our faculty of Judgment adequately. And this is the reason such tests are not indicative of our ability to achieve happiness and success in life!
How we help you hone this skill

One of the aims of our portal is help motivated people develop and hone the faculty of Judgment. But, can one’s judgment really be honed?

Well, consider these examples below, and judge for yourselves!

  1. Most females are very good in judging inappropriate male behavior. They can instantly tell if someone is ogling at them. How? Because, they train the neural networks of their minds to judge such people/situations. Read more here.
  2. A great detective is awesome at judging crime situations. Poirot is a great (though fictitious) example. He instantly knows which clue to consider and which to ignore. How? Because he has trained his mind based on his past experiences
  3. An excellent traffic police man instantly knows which car driver is driving without adequate papers. How? He has trained his mind’s neural network on numerous past experiences.

So, what is the method for honing this faculty?

Well, the method consists of 6 basic steps:

  1. Identify what kind of contexts (e.g. people, ideas, situation) you want to be able to judge well
  2. Identify a context where you would like to form a judgment
  3. Do some some good research on that context
  4. Force your mind to synthesize a view from all the above research
  5. Follow the context for a few months and assess how the outcome unfolds
  6. Once the outcome becomes clear, take feedback on the performance of your judgment

Such kind of continuous practice will gradually train your mind’s neural network and hone your judgment. Read more here.

Key Insight

Just commit yourself in advance to some judgments about the business/people situations around you, and then assess how your judgment fared against the actual outcome, and you will have daily opportunities to hone your judgment!