03 Jan 2008  What Do YOU Think?

Does Judgment Trump Experience?

It's a question as relevant for business as for the U.S. presidential campaign, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. If "judgment capability" is a function of experience, what kind of experience is important? Does plenty of experience really improve judgment? Online forum now CLOSED.

 

Summing Up

How is good judgment developed? Whether judgment trumps experience quickly gave way in this month's rich exchange of views to other questions about how (and the extent to which) judgment is developed.

Most of those addressing the question agreed with the recent assertion by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis that judgment trumps experience. While raising many other questions about the column, Michael Scott pointed out that "as the book (by Tichy and Bennis) makes clear, judgment is the quintessential leadership task." As August Ray put it, "… experience without good judgment is worthless; good judgment without experience is still good judgment!" On the other hand, Robert Moses asserted that "a person without experience is very unlikely to have good judgment; experience is the wheel that grinds and hones." And William Welsh reminded us of the Oscar Wilde quote that "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment." Andrew Obara assumed a middle ground, saying that "the two mutually enhance each other."

Several felt that the premise depends on the kinds of experience to which one might be referring. Jennifer Davis recalled the "quip that states that some people have 20 years experience and others have had the 1 year of experience 20 times." Stan Heard pointed out, "It is possible to get experience without deriving knowledge or judgment from it." Others suggested the importance of "filters" by which experience is translated into judgment. Among them are an "analytical mind" (Devamalya De), the "personal value system" (Fabina Schonholz), and a "compelling vision" (Joel Whitaker).

Some dismissed the question as too simplistic, in the process posing other more interesting propositions for consideration. Tony Wanless emphasized the importance of knowing the way leaders learn from experience, suggesting the need for "a synthesis of thinking that adds value to the experience." Ludwig Toledo stated, "Common sense is at the basis of good judgment," raising the question of how and whether common sense is informed by experience. Several questioned whether judgment or experience could be defined clearly enough to even address the premise. For example, B. V. Krishnamurthy commented, "It is … important to define good judgment—good from whose perspective?"

Few questioned that good judgment can be acquired, possibly at some risk and cost of mistakes. This still leaves us with the question of whether it can be taught. (Michael Hogan and Al Scheid both expressed doubts about this.) But if it can be taught, can it be done more efficiently and at lower risk than in the "school of hard knocks" assumed in many responses? (David White's comment that "… the only way to improve judgment is to make mistakes" was typical of these.) Can, for example, professional schools play some role in this effort? If so, what kind of training would be required for those teaching "judgment"? To what degree could this supplement and perhaps accelerate a process of individual self-discovery in the real world? What do you think?

Original Article

The publication of a new book, Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls, by Warren Bennis and Noel Tichy warrants attention if for no other reason than the range of experiences that they bring to the topic. The event coincides with an issue that has arisen in the U.S. presidential campaign, an issue of broad relevance: Does judgment trump experience?

In their book, the authors have undertaken the formidable task of describing judgment and how good judgments are formed and carried out, based on observations of successful and unsuccessful leaders. They assert that "making judgment calls (especially about people, strategy, and crises) is the essential job of a leader" and go on to say that "with good judgment, little else matters; without good judgment, nothing else matters." To make good judgment calls, a successful leader must, among other things: have strong character and courage, be a good learner, be a creator of knowledge with a storyline (comprising ideas, values, and ways of generating emotional energy for the organization) and a teachable point of view, in addition to possessing good judgment. There is no mention of experience, although in a "Handbook for Leadership Judgment" in the back of the book, in discussing the importance of self-knowledge, it is posited that judgment capability (my italics) is a function of experience.

At the risk of oversimplification, according to the authors, good judgment is characterized as a process of preparation (sensing and identifying the need for judgment calls, framing and naming the judgment call, and mobilizing and aligning the right people to carry it out), making the judgment call, making execution happen, and learning and continuously adjusting after the call is made. Good leaders use knowledge of self as well as that of social networks, stakeholders, and the organization. The authors don't believe that judgment comes naturally. But they are sure it can be learned, even though they aren't sure how to teach it.

Fast forward to a column by the authors titled "Judgment Trumps Experience," that appeared this past autumn in the November 29 issue of The Wall Street Journal. In it, they argue that judgment is much more important than experience. "Wisely-processed" experience can contribute to judgment. But past experience can also prevent wise judgments. Without it, a leader can proceed with fresh insight "unfettered by experience."

This raises a number of questions. In selecting leaders, does one have to choose between experience and judgment? If "judgment capability" is a function of experience, what kind of experience is relevant? Do crises or the unexpected provide better opportunities for the right kind of experience than more normal situations? We know how to measure experience; but just how is judgment measured? How do we know that recent decisions represent good judgment? How much time is required for decisions to be proven wise or not? Given the need to establish priorities, is relevant experience in organizations that have performed well worth more or less than someone's opinion of a person's judgment? Does judgment trump experience? What do you think?

To read more:

Noel M. Tichy and Warren G. Bennis, Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls (New York: Penguin Group, 2007).

Warren Bennis and Noel Tichy, "Judgment Trumps Experience," The Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition), November 29, 2007, p. A19.

Comments

    • Anonymous

    Like the resource-based view, "judgement capability" risks becoming tautological, an ex post justification for a good decision or act of leadership.

     
     
     
    • Dr B. V. Krishnamurthy
    • Director and Executive Vice-President, Alliance Business Academy

    There is a strong temptation to quote examples from the Indian context where both in business and in politics, leadership is considered a hereditary trait. However, to maintain a balanced view, the temptation is curbed for the context in question.

    Leadership is a complex blend of characteristics - knowledge, insight, observation, analysis, synthesis, anticipation, agility, empathy and a clear understanding of both expectations and possible outcomes. One can argue that experience is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for sound judgement.

    It is easy to see the reasons. The characteristics mentioned evolve from experience. Else, there would be a case for catapulting fresh graduates found to excel in judgement (by one or more tests) to the top of the hierarchy. At the same time, it is worth remembering that even leaders with decades of experience do make mistakes. Part of the problem may be the aura of infalliability that follows success. Another part is the concept of "representativeness" - generalizing from one experience or assuming that outcomes follow a structured pattern.

    It is also important to define good judgement - good from whose perspective? What is good for the customers may not be good for shareholders or employees or another set of stakeholders. Ideally, leadership should focus on what is good for the organization as a whole - long-term growth, competitive advantage, satisfied customers and suppliers, wealth for the shareholders, motivated employees, a responsible and responsive corporate citizen - a tall order indeed for any leader. The inherent conflict between the expectations of different stakeholder groups poses the ultimate challenge for any leader.

    What then is the solution? One can perhaps draw lessons from "Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators." A leader needs to forget a part of the experience - in so far as each situation is different and the context has to be understood before making the judgement call. A leader also needs to borrow from experience to the extent that experience facilitates separating the grain from the chaff. A leader further has to learn continuously - from others and from the environment. This pattern of forget - borrow - learn can form a virtuous cycle increasing the probability of making judgements that have the highest positive impact on the widest possible spectrum of stakeholders.

    Identifying people with such abilities is another matter. History may not be the best indicator although a poor track record can help eliminate prospects. Adaptibility and agility at the speed of thought may be the way to look for leaders who can deliver consistently and diligently - leaders who can make good judgements most of the time. This would inevitably put even more pressure on already stressed managers but an alternative does not seem to be available for now.

     
     
     
    • Michael D. Scott, Esq.
    • Entrepreneur/Scholar, The Futago Companies

    In this important book, Bennis and Tichy identify - correctly, in my view - judgment as the quintessential task of leadership, with the leader at "the Copernican pivot at the center of the decision-making process." They state that making judgments (especially about people, strategies, and crises) is the fundamental leadership task, and that "with good judgment, little else matters; without good judgment, nothing else matters."

    Heskett's book review describes the authors' formidable undertakings (based on studies of successful and unsuccessful leaders) to describe the inchoate concept of "judgment" and explain how "good" judgments are formulated and successfully executed. The review contends that Bennis and Tichy do not believe that judgment comes naturally, although it can be learned (even though, according to Heskett, Bennis and Tichy are not sure how to teach the subject). Here, I disagree. The "Handbook for Leadership Judgment" following the concluding chapter provides, essentially, an operations manual (prepared by Tichy and Chris DeRose) to facilitate application of the principles of the book toward achievement of specific organizational objectives.

    In their book, Bennis and Tichy make no significant mention of "experience" as a competing or complementary attribute of leadership. Heskett, on the other hand, seems interested in introducing experience and over-complicating the authors' view that judgment is the essence of leadership. He notes, for example, that in discussing the importance of self-knowledge in the "Handbook for Leadership Judgment," Tichy and DeRose (notably, not Bennis) posit that judgment capability (Heskett's italics) is a function of "experience" (my emphasis). Conceding, as he must, that the thesis presented by Bennis and Tichy in their Wall Street Journal article is that judgment is much more important than experience, Heskett seems to want to raise experience as a potentially necessary attribute of leadership based on the prudent qualification of the authors' thesis to the effect that, while "wisely-processed" experience can contribute to judgment, experien ce can also inhibit judgment by denying a leader fresh insight "unfettered by experience."

    From this starting point, Heskett develops a series of rhetorical questions:

    1. In selecting leaders, does one have to choose between experience and judgment? The Bennis/Tichy position is clearly, no. While experience may, or may not, inform judgment, judgment is much more important than experience (as expressed in the Wall Street Journal article). Moreover, as the book makes clear, judgment is the quintessential leadership task. The leader is at "the Copernican pivot at the center of the decision-making process." Parenthetically, choosing experience over judgment is illogical to the extent that you can "teach" the latter (an issue over which Heskett and I disagree on the Tichy/DeRose position), but not the former.

    2. If "judgment capability" is a function of experience, what kind of experience is relevant? As we say in the practice of law, I would argue that this question assumes a fact not in evidence; a single statement, taken out of context, does not create an issue for decision. The suggestion that judgment capability is a function of experience is taken from the Tichy/DeRose primer "The Handbook for Leadership Judgment" (at the conclusion of the Bennis/Tichy book) that purports to "teach" principles of judgment, with self-knowledge based on "experience" a factor of value. Having denigrated the question, however, the issue it raises is profound and explains why I chose to put "experience" in quotes. If it is to be considered at all, the nature of experience certainly seems relevant, and I would argue that what I will call "disciplinary experience" - that is, substantially non-decisional expertise and experience in a relevant underlying discipline (finance, law, management, etc.) - and what I will call "judgmental experience" - that is, experience making decisions and executing strategies (often across a variety of disciplines) are equally valuable and desirable. Furthermore, I suggest that "quantitative experience" - expertise in the use of advanced logic, statistics, principles of finance and familiarity with key legal concepts such as "likely," "probable," "material," and "remote" - is critical.

    3. Do crises or the unexpected provide better opportunities for the right kind of experience than more normal situations? Yes. Crises and the unexpected stretch disciplinary experience, often necessitate cross-disciplinary judgmental experience, and test the quality of the leader's quantitative experience.

    4. We know how to measure experience; but just how is judgment measured? Again, Heskett's question assumes a fact not in evidence. The two preceding questions concede a lack of consensus on what "experience" is to be measured. The question of measuring the quality of judgment is a more profound question worthy of separate and considerable scholarship. I suggest, however, that retrospective analysis of judgments based on quantitative outcomes (that is, retrospectively value judgments against the values that the factors encompassed within the concept of quantitative experience predicted at the time the judgments were made) might be a good starting point.

    5. How do we know that recent decisions represent good judgment? Until consensus on measuring the quality of judgments is achieved, this question cannot be answered.

    6. How much time is required for decisions to be proven wise or not? See the response to question 5.

    7. Given the need to establish priorities, is relevant experience in organizations that have performed well worth more or less than someone's opinion of a person's judgment? It is difficult to know where to start with this question. The relationships, if any, between prioritization, "relevant experience" (a term on which there is no definitional consensus and, regardless of meaning would, according to Bennis and Tichy, properly be subordinated to judgmental integrity), favorable organizational performance (whatever that means) and the opinion of a hypothetical "someone" (who may or may not exercise good judgment) are analytical quicksand.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten. Experience has taught many that touching a hot stove burns, however many a person's judgment has been clouded into trying it for themselves.

     
     
     
    • Malvin Bernal
    • Consultancy Unlimited - Philippines

    A lot of things have been said over which influences the other. Is it judgement that is derive from experience, or experience that influences judgement. Whatever item influences the other, I feel that we are missing the point. Both judgement and experience are not shaped by one another. It is shaped by VALUES.

    The reason why we had our own brand of experience is not solely due to the judegment and choices that we make. It is based on values and what we consider as something truly worthwhile, for the short-term and the long-term. Our decisions are shaped by many consideration. We can scan a million data to ensure that our judgements would be sound. But, at the end of the day, it is our own definition of what is right and what is ethical that would prove which would take priority.

    The likes of enron and worldcom are just some of the examples that we can point out. These companies are founded by great leaders and corporate visionaries. Their decision to destroy their companies is not an act of judgement or due to some previous experience. It was defined and convicted by values.

     
     
     
    • CJ Cullinane

    I believe that experience enhances judgement but great leaders know how to tap into the experiences of other people. We cannot gather all relevant experience as time changes most things but we can look at how other leaders handled similar situations.

    Experience is the reservoir we draw from when a decision has to be made. If that reservoir is limited so are our judgements. Utilizing the experiences of advisors, peers, and long time employees can fill the void of lack of experience. The problem here is that ego most often clouds the judgement of the leader and they fall back on their limited experience.

    Without experience ( practical knowledge) decisions will not be as 'good' as with experience. Advisors can help but experience is the best advisor.

    Charlie

     
     
     
    • Ulysses U. Pardey, MBA
    • Managing Director, Am-Tech, S.A., Panama, Rep.of Panama

    In selecting leaders, does one have to choose between experience and judgment? If "judgment capability" is a function of experience, what kind of experience is relevant? We know how to measure experience; but just how is judgment measured? Does judgment trump experience?

    Some tentative workable definitions for the purpose of my comment. Just for the sake of making my contribution somewhat handy let's say that:

    Judgment is a non-countable measure of someone or something i.e. in order to help frame what to do. Experience is some useful knowledge learned either through personal or someone else's living. "Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." Albert Einstein

    We measure in order to learn and we use what we know in order to measure.

    Generally speaking, "what comes first?" could be a wrong question; however, the time available for learning-measuring before making decisions could be used to establish accurate priorities. As usual, testing measures in real life situations whenever possible is a good guidance. Let's remind ourselves that leaders are great people under pressure. Can we separate as independent bits and pieces measuring-and-learning? Does it make sense business wise? Based upon these two tentative workable definitions for this comment, it could be misleading. In a real life business setting, learning and measuring go together as they complement each other because understanding the relationship and dynamic binding these two basic assets could substantially contribute to boost profit growth.

    If someone does it, it can be learned. The question is how did he / she learned it and how to teach it properly? It is highly possible that the way we measure-and-learn is deeply shaped by the way we have been raised from an early age at home, at school and in society and this sketches out our answer to "what really matters to us?". This approach of learning-measuring could turn it into a practice developed through lots of years and influences; however, the good news is that the essential can be put on paper ... and that we can be trained.

    Does judgment trump experience? How much new useful knowledge has been identified by mistake? Once we know that the additional profits are out there then what needs to be identified is the way to get them.

     
     
     
    • Tim Orr
    • President, Barnett Orr Marketing Group, Inc.

    It is said that the one-time warden of San Quentin prison had a framed motto over his desk that said: "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."

    It is inconceivable to me that these ideas could be separated from one another. I wonder, however, if we need to add the "consequences" of bad judgment as a factor.

    If you can run your company into the ground or incur huge losses and still get a whopping annual bonus or golden parachute, perhaps you won't learn much from your bad judgments.

    One executive I spoke to said that the experience of taking his company through and out of bankruptcy was one he'd give a million dollars never to have again, but also an experience he would not give a million dollars to have avoided.

     
     
     
    • Stan Heard
    • Consultant, Dale Carnegie

    The Presidential election, notwithstanding, I would tend to agree that judgment is a key to leadership. I personally feel that at a minimum Knowledge, Judgment, and Integrity make up the necessary attributes of a leader.

    It is possible to get experience without deriving knowledge or judgment from it. Hiring someone as a manager, ceo, or president of a company just because they have been one of those in the past neglects to consider what kind of experience they had in those past roles. It is not an indicator of future success. Who was that masked man from Pepsi who came to save Apple Computer? He wasn't a bad executive but his experience didn't translate to Apple culture.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Judgement and Experience are definitely intertwined; hence related and interdependent. The measurability and provability of each stands in seperate light.

    Talent, choice and belief all underly the ability to judge and the decisions of prioritization.

    Experience is definable but its measure is subject to judged critieria.

    I personally value Judgement over experience if it is actually possible and have reservations about being able to make that judgement call.

     
     
     
    • August Ray
    • Owner, JustPetStrollers.com

    I think this is an easy question to answer. We've all seen some very experienced people make very bad decisions and seen inexperienced people make great decisions. Judgement trumps all. Of course, the more experience one has, the better the chances of making better, informed decisions. But experience without good judgment is worthless; good judgment without experience is still good judgment!

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    I found this discussion to be very helpful, yet I continue to wonder about who decides or defines "experience"? Several presidential candidates are claiming more experience than others, but there is no clear line to how this "experience" affected their judgment. I believe that experience is a significant factor in developing judgment, but I question whether specific situational experience indicate good judgment. I would prefer to look at one's history of decisions through varied experiences. I also recall a comment about an individual who claimed 20 years experience in a particular field. A reference responded that this was true, unfortunately the candidate had simply repeated the same experience annually, i.e. there was no improvement in judgment and he didn't learn or grow through his 20 years of "experience".

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    In business, judgment is certainly a relevant and critical component of leaderhip. One can afford (indeed it is even desireable) to make a few mistakes along the way, as such learning is helpful and necessary in personal development.

    Insofar as the office of President of the United States, there is no margin for error. The idea that allowing a neophyte to gain the necessary skills through "on the job training" is patently ludicrous. The world is a far more dangerous place than it has ever been, with nuclear proliferation, the rise of stateless terrorism and economic and humanitarian crises of staggering proportions.

    We need a leader who has already learned the important lessons necessary to make him or her effective on their first day in office. To elect anyone whose credentials have not been thorougly vetted, to the most powerful job on earth, is sheer folly.

     
     
     
    • Michael Hogan MBA '88
    • Energy executive

    The artificiality of the dichotomy presented can be summed up in the statement, "Experience tells me that judgment is more important than experience." In fact, after 20 years leading small and large organizations executing international energy infrastructure projects worth billions of dollars, I would subscribe to that statement, and to that extent would agree with the authors, but my concurrence would pretty much stop there. Judgment - the ability to recognize from the (nearly always limited) information available the few key nuggets that will, more often than not, lead you to the best conclusion - is one of the two essential qualities of effective leaders that can't be learned, can't be taught (the other is integrity); you're born with a certain innate level of pattern recognition skills that we evolved in the veldt to be able to recognize threats and opportunities and which we exercise to this day in the way we proce ss information received from the sensed world. Some people will always be better at it than others. That said, integrity can be reinforced and judgment refined by mentoring and experience, so to say that with judgment nothing else matters is utter nonsense. In logical terms, judgment is a necessary but not sufficient quality in a leader, while experience is a highly desirable but neither necessary nor sufficient quality in a leader.

     
     
     
    • Paul T. Jackson
    • Owner/Consultant, Trescott Research

    I'm impressed with the responses thus far. I can only add my belief as I have experienced it, which is that judgment comes from the accumulation of facts, often unconsciously or accumulated like those of futurists and economists who track trends and extrapolate that information into making "judgments" or predictions as they did almost 20 years ago when they indicated that houses that were selling in the $30-60,000 range would be costing in the future in the $300,000 range. All of which has come to pass.

    Judgment, i.e., action taken based upon perceived or accumulated information , is not so much based on experience as it is the ability to "know" or "synthesize" the meaning of it all.

    Often things happen in real time...not past time...that require action based on these current observations (accumulated information) and extrapolated synthesis of what it means and what then, is the action that must be taken, ergo, Judgment.

     
     
     
    • David White
    • Well Delivery Performance Champion, Nexen Inc.

    I think that the question is best summed up by the quote, "It isn't what happens to you, it's what you do with what happens to you." I like to think that nothing is really learned until a mistake is made. In all things in life there are always decisions being made and actions undertaken. Whether or not a decision is a good one or not is often never known because follow up actions are undertaken to stay the course and we will never know how much better or worse things could have been if another course of action was taken. When mistakes are identified (typically after several poor judgements in a row), we can make another decision to bury it or share it so that others can potentially gain experience. An organisations culture (collection of values and behaviours) will dictate which course of action is followed.

    At the end of the day experience is the result of poor judgement and the only way to improve judgement is to make mistakes. So the leader's main role is to control the environment where subordinates can learn to limit the damage.

     
     
     
    • Jack Flanagan
    • President, Poseidon Consultancy LLC

    I've not yet had an opportunity to read the book.

    That said, I see things a bit differently than Jim Heskett when he says "We know how to measure experience; but how is judgement measured ?"

    Too often 'experience' is an umbrella term that encompasses 'observation' , 'attendance', 'peripheral involvement', 'major involvement', 'decision maker' or 'ultimately accountable for the consequences (of judgement and, therefore results'. I submit that measuring 'experience' is not nearly as straightforward as Jim posits.

     
     
     
    • Arturo Valte
    • Management Consultant (Distribution)

    One gets to a point where he needs to/can make a judgement call only after he has established a process or procedure. This process or procedure is bourne out of his past experience. He then makes /make judgement calls whenever there is a deviation from these processes/procedures. In other words, I believe they come one after the other instead of a choice to be made.

     
     
     
    • Charles Heskett
    • Managing Director, Kildare-Enterprises

    From my perspective, the more defined and limited a role is, the more experience trumps judgment. If I'm a welder of ships, more experience gets me further down the road. In terms of the jobs you are defining in this article such as the President of the U.S. or a large organization, judgment trumps experience in my opinion. I recently completed reading "Fiasco-The American Military Adventure In Iraq". If the book is accurate, it took our military leaders several years to embrace the notion of looking back into history and studying insurgent warfare. After a prominent Marine General demanded his executive team do this, things changed dramatically in a positive way. Clearly all generals have experience but few seemed to have had the judgment to use history as an "advisor" as Charlie Cullinane commented on above. Tragically, the newspapers are filled with stories of highly successful CEO's with enormous experience and sound judgment (seemingly) forgetting that sound judgment as they negotiate their final severance package and destroy the positive legacy they worked their lives to create.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Judgment is the key element in good decision making. You can draw on the experience of others in developing a reasoned decision. Critical thinking skills are probably a better indicator of a person's judgment capability than past experience. Based on my observations made over 35 years working in three major Fortune 500 companies, judgment triumphed over experience every time.

     
     
     
    • Robert Moore

    A person without experience is very unlikely to have good judgment; experience is the wheel that grinds and hones. A person with good judgment is likely to HAVE the needed experience already--and if not, will certainly know how to get it.

    A bit of folk wisdom poses a similar "which is better" question: Which would you rather be--young or old?

    A young person has made fewer mistakes, but many more lie in the future; an old person has made many more mistakes, but has few in the future....

     
     
     
    • Joel Whitaker
    • Editor and President, Whitaker Newsletters Inc.

    Leadership, judgment and experience are related, but are not the same.

    What made Ronald Reagan a great leader, while George W. Bush is viewed are lacking? What made FDR capable of leading the nation through the Great Depression, while Herbert Hoover was paralyzed as the economy slipped?

    A great leader must have good judgment. But he must also have a compelling vision.

    I'm thinking about the owners of a major afternoon newspaper many years ago. Their general manager developed comprehensive plans to move the afternoon paper -- which was No. 1 in its market -- in the morning. Then, before the plan was implemented, he died. The owners lacked the courage to take the risk of going head-to-head with a weak morning paper. The afternoon paper died about 25 years ago.

    Meanwhile, the morning paper was acquired by a company with a great reputation in the newspaper business. It installed great executives, and did well for a while. But in the current environment, that paper was sold -- to a local real estate operator, who has the vision that the paper can be successful under private ownership. Whether that judgment will be proven correct we won't know for several years.

    The same point can be made citing Bernard Kilgore. When he began developing the modern Wall Street Journal, he had experience as a newspaperman, but little executive experience.

    Where experience (and a knowledge of history) becomes critical is in preventing a bad judgment. The subprime mortgage mess, and the current developing recession, is no surprise to people who have been watching markets for 30 or 40 years, noir to those who have studied business history and recall that the Great Depression began not in 1929, but in 1926, with the collapse of the Florida land bubble.

    Back in 1926, the 30-year self-amortizing didn't exist. At that time, the standard was an interest-only mortgage. Many people then, as recently refinanced to take cash out as real estate prices rose.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Allow me to make a judgment call on this....judgment can and does trump experience but not all the time. Much depends on first gathering the facts as well as opinions of others who do have a certain amount of experience.

    Then, the "judgment call" can be made with possibly more opportunity for success than failure.

     
     
     
    • Tarik Hijazin
    • Director - Product Management, Telcordia Technologies

    Judgment is far more relevant when it comes to making decisions than experience. Good judgment is typically enhanced with facts, environment, learning, and experience. A good experience is a product of judgment implementation during situations over a short or extended period of time . However, experience that does not include events of successful judgments could diminish its value and importance. It is important to point out that experience is vital and more relevant when it comes to fulfilling judgments. Good judgment alone can only lead to toward the beginning of a good path; it is the experience that produces desired results and fulfills the judgment through wise implementation.

     
     
     
    • Steven Mandzik
    • Web Evangelist, Jasmah Consulting

    Great post. I have been debating this issue a lot in regards to politics. It really seems like a non-issue. Rather, one that some campaigns are using to tout why they are "better".

    The issue relates to more than just judgment/experience. It also touches on age discrimination. In an age where seniority has lost some prominence, what happens when good judgment provides better results than experience?

    Should companies and voters continue to strive for the most experienced person? Or, should they go with one that has the best judgment? And, how much does age play into the equation?

    http://www.swordplay.tv

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Judgement capablity is inborn and is more of an instinct response. Though experience always shapes judgement but sometimes even when faced with facts and all the rationale behind a decision people still choose the 'unreasonable'. Hence the saying- man is to err.

     
     
     
    • Andrew Campbell
    • Director, Ashridge Business School

    I have been working on why experienced leaders sometimes make dumb decisions. There appear to be four root causes, apart from mental illness, - misleading experiences, inappropriate pre-judgements, conflicting self interest and conflicting attachments. By far the most frequent cause is misleading experiences.

    So what kind of experiences do leaders need? First they need experiences that are relevant to the decisions they are going to have to take. Since this is not always possible, they then need experience with the problem of "misleading experiences". They need to know that the experiences they are sub-consciously drawing on may be misleading because the situation they are facing is somewhat different to previous situations.

    Think of Matthew Broderick and New Orleans. His experience had not prepared him for a hurricane over land below sea level. But the real problem is that he had not had enough experience of misleading experiences and how to deal with the risk they pose for generating dumb decisions. As a result his instincts were all wrong and he made some foolish choices.

    The experience that leaders need about "misleading experiences" is first that they can cause people to believe they are right when they are wrong, and second that the solution is careful design of the decision process. How much better would Broderick's decisions have been if he had designed better decision processes for coping with the strains he faced on that fateful hurricane Monday.

    Inappropriate pre-judgements are also a major cause of dumb decisions and these are often related to experience in its widest sense. Again the experience that leaders need is exposure to the "right ways of thinking" and the "right rules of thumb" given the situation they are facing. In addition they need experience of the danger of "inappropriate pre-judgements" and of the fact that they can be protected from "inappropriate pre-judgements" by tailoring the decision process.

    Take Tony Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq. He had lots of experience of intervening - in Kosvo, Sierra Leone, and Afganistan. But these were misleading experiences because the situation in Iraq was different.

    Blair also had formed an inappropriate pre-judgement. Before 9/11 he had made a speech in Chicago about the benefits of an interventionist approach to world peace.

    But Blair's real problem was a lack of experience of the dangers of relying on his own judgements when circumstances are a little different. As a result, he bulldozed the decision through his party and his country despite a million people protesting in the streets of London. A little attention to the decision process would have saved him from a dumb decision and the tarnishing of his reputation as a great leader.

    Blair of course also suffered from conflicting self interests and conflicting attachments, so he was up against it. However, a carefully designed decision process could have saved him from his own lack of relevant experience.

     
     
     
    • Tony Wanless
    • principal, Knowpreneur Consultants

    I think there is a confusion here between experience and knowledge.

    Experience is simply having been around when something happened and being affected by it, positively or negatively. Knowledge is what we learn from an experience, a synthesis of thinking that adds value to the experience. This is known as knowledge.

    Decision making is a thinking process, and there is a methodology to it -- on which I consult. In this process you define a situation or problem and generate alternative solutions/actions so that you can compare potential results, and/or judge the relative importance of factors, rational and emotional, that go into the decision.

    An experience usually sparks an emotional response in the lower brain that may or may not be important to the thinking process of the upper brain. So a "bad experience" might have undue influence on a decision.

    Simply relying on experience usually means you'll do the same thing over and over again, or you'll ricochet in the opposite direction (if your experience was "bad").

    That's why you apply thinking methodology -- to sort out these issues.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    One hand washes the other. It's really a problem of how much information is dependable and adequate. Examining a bad decision can often reveal poor information was used or good information was mis-interpreted. The experience of judgment leads one to know when they have sufficient and reliable information to even make a judgment. In the military, the saying is "A bad decision is better than no decision at all." These are usually life and death situations where more will die if a decision is not made as soon as possible. Hopefully, corporations and NGOs have this issue as an on-going item of analysis and discussion. In the private sector, there are exit interviews; there should also be post-bad decision interviews to find out what was learned, and where the process went wrong.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Good judgment is a skill unto itself -- a skill that improves with experience. Most decision makers are faced with a multitude of judgments involving diverse topics. Since no one can be an expert on every topic, good decision makers (whether the realize it or not) rely on strong analytical skills. Understanding the business objective, gathering relevant data and accurately comparing the data against the objective is what results in a good judgment.

    Anyone credited with having "good judgment" could probably give you a long list of poor judgments they have made over time. Good judgment is a learned skill. Hence, experience does matter -- in making judgments.

    You don't need to understand the molecular composition of puzzle pieces to assemble a puzzle. People who consistently make good judgments are using their experience at problem solving rather than specific knowledge of individual facets of a problem.

     
     
     
    • Al Scheid
    • Chairman/Founderw, Scheid Vineyards Inc.

    After over 50+ years of experience making business judgments, one thing has come clear to me. There are those who only make bad judgments when the decision really counts. They rarely become leaders.

    I have known hundreds of business and civic leaders. Those with good judgment had it from the beginning of their careers - that is how they became leaders. They only improved with age and experience, but they all made mistakes. The trick is to recognize the mistakes quickly and have the courage and judgment to fix it.

    The only real reason to discuss this subject is if judgment can be taught. I posit that it can be improved by teaching techniques to make analysis of problems more effective. But the ability to consistently make good judgments comes from within. No tutor can teach a person how to become a great mathmatician, but a fine math mind can be taught, early in life, techniques which help reach higher levels of math thinking. This, in my view, is a perfect analogy to the subject at hand.

     
     
     
    • Gerald Nanninga
    • VP, Retail Ventures

    When I look at the very successful companies and compare them to lesser performers, I tend to some combination of the following characteristics:

    1) The successful companies break away from conventional thinking and do things differently from their peers. (this tends to mitigate the importance of experience)

    2) The successful companies take the time to understand their business and exploit nuances that an outsider would not readily see.(this tends to raise the importance of knowledge, which may or may not come from experience)

    3) The successful companies tend to to a better job in pursuing their vision (which has as much to do with steadfastness and persuasion as it does with judgement).

    Experience looks backwards...vision looks forward. Vision is enhanced by having a willingness to break new ground and a willingness to learn. I suppose you would call this good judgement, but as others have said, it is based on my experience.

     
     
     
    • Ludwig Toledo

    Eventhoug common sense is at the basis of good judgement, good judgement improves only with experience. And by the way, "common sense", is not so common.

     
     
     
    • Perry Miles

    Experience is to judgment as coaching is to pitching in baseball. Judgment is a skill in decision-making just as pitching is a skill. Both decision-making and pitching can be done with neither experience nor training, and if one has a lot of inherent talent, both can be done reasonably well. With good coaching and good experience both can be done better than without.

     
     
     
    • Farhat Ali
    • President & CEO, Fujitsu Computer Systems

    Though I have not read the book, I enjoyed reading the comments. What we are discussing is wisdom because good leadership is about wise decisions. Needed requirements are skills, experience and values.
    1) Skills has two components one learned and the other genetic. First you train for and second inherited. Tiger Woods has both. he had the base ability and also acquired skills. 2) Experience is similar to history except it has the element of personal emotional content so more meaningful. Idea is to leran from experience but not get bound by it. 3) Most important aspect of judgement is values.

    Wisdom results from a skilled person (learned and genetic) who has gone thru some personal learning experiences and has the courage and conviction to make the decison.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Good judgment is a fundamental and relative quality of leaders. However, good judgment, to be relevant, needs to go hand-in-hand with results. It is good to notice that, as in the formulation of a good strategy, if the organizational culture is incapable of executing the strategy a step by step improvement process with continuous modifications in work culture, is needed. In many cases, implementing all at once leads to disaster. If we accept that less than 10% of the good strategies are duly implemented, judgment will require the capacity to select the proper team with the right kind of knowledge and experience. Judgment is an elusive property that requires, among other things, system vision, perseverance, discipline and humility to recognize your own limitations, the ability to motivate and the capacity to develop the passion to succeed.

     
     
     
    • Sharon L Richmond
    • Mgt Consultant/Leadership Coach, Stanford Business School; Center for Leadership Development and Research

    The question as posed - Does Judgment Trump Experience? - should be answered "No." The two are both inter-related, unrelated, and partly related. All prior responders provide arguments to support this.

    Experience itself is of course useful, when one learns from it. . While we can (theoretically) learn from our own or others' experiences, we only learn when we take time to reflect on what happened in the situation at hand, and then to apply critical thinking to extrapolate the generalizable and transferrable. Now there might be fodder for enhancing judgment.

    Judgment, as used by the authors, could be interpreted in multiple ways: discernment, good decision-making skills, ability to make a 'right choice' (measured only after the fact), even as analytical/critical thinking. In a rush to annoint a new-but-familiar word the 'most important for leadership' I believe the authors have been pressed into an unrealistic statement.

    Whether judgment can only be labeled 'good' or 'bad' is at least in part determined by the results which happen. And yet, even what appears to be the result of 'good judgment,' may not be. We love to attribute the results we achieve to our own efforts or choices. But correlation stills doesn't equal causation.

    As Prof's. Jeff Pfeffer and Robt Sutton have written in their recent book, one of the gravest challenges to leadership 'judgment' is that decisions are often made based on half-truths posited but untested, and hard facts are ameliorated by untrue (and unchallenged) beliefs. They provide a great resource for debunking many leadership/mgt myths in that book (Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths...).

    So which matters more? I say neither. What matters more (and what trumps most everything else in my view) is whether the world is left better off when a leader has turned the last page of her or his book. This reveals me as one who believes that leadership is a profession (to hearken back to last fall's discussion), and that it indeed carries with it an obligation both to wield power for the good of the many, not the few, and to oppose others who do not.

     
     
     
    • Patrick Weller
    • Consultant

    In my 8 years as CEO of medium sized financial company, I have found that execution of an idea trumps "judgement" or "experience" that formed it. A well judged idea, but poorly executed is typically unsuccessful. A poorly judged idea, but well executed is often very successful. Superior execution transforms most inferior judgement calls into winners either by literally creating a market for the less than perfect idea or simply by building sufficient momentum to allow product enhancements over time. Either way, it becomes hard to disprove this was not the best of all possible judgement calls?

     
     
     
    • Thomas Arneson
    • President, Focus Consulting LLC

    Professor Heskett suggests that "judgement capabiity" is a function of experience and asks, what kind of expreience is important?

    If good judgement is the ability to take in information from a variety of sources, make a decision, conscious of the "filters" on that information and achieve a greater good, a lasting positive outcome. Is bad judgement the ability to take in information from a variety of sources, make a decision unconsciously influenced by the "filters" on the information, have the trappings of short term success (enron et. al) but generally achieves neither a greater good nor a lasting positive outcome?

    I would suggest that great leaderrs I have known in the public and private sectors excecise good judgement because they understand the "filters" they have and the "filters" that are consciously and unconsciously placed on the information presented to them in the decision making process.

    The type of experience I think is important is one where we are required to confront pre-concieved ideas, points of view and prejudices, take in information and make trancendant and or transformational decisions.

    Those experiences can be found not only in the meat grinder of life called poliltics, business and academia, but also in the crucible of the heart, tempered by relationships, the highs and lows of love, the joys of success and birth and the grief of loss and death.

    Does judgement trump experience? They are two of the required cards in the winning hand necessary for any leader regardless of their field.

    Tom Arneson, Henderson, Kentucky

     
     
     
    • Jennifer Davis
    • Creative Outlet Labs

    I am reminded of a quip that states that some people have 20 years experience and others have had the same 1 year of experience 20 times. Similarly, I think experience develops judgement only to the extent that the person thinks of how their experience (ie, stove burners are hot to the touch) can extrapolate to new situations (what other dangers might be lurking in the kitchen?). This can be practiced, but is not always. We often miss the learning opportunities that exist in our day-to-day responsibilities by thinking of them too narrowly.

     
     
     
    • William J. Welsh
    • Managing Dir., Dionis Management LLC

    "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." - Oscar Wilde Mr. Wilde makes a good point. I'd prefer that the President of the United States get his/her experience before taking office.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Does judgment trump experience? yes

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    My father taught me many years ago that it is possible for those who claim to have multiple years of experience to really have little. Instead of 10 years of experience, someone may have celebrated their first year on the job 10 times over. Without continuous learning in a decision making role using one's judgement, experience doesn't account for much.

    The best way to learn to improve one's judgement is having to fix one's mistakes.

    The most painful experience is when you see someone making that same mistake, you share your experience, yet they use poor judgement by repeating the same mistake. Then you've got to hope that you don't get blamed for the mistake and that the decision maker sticks around long enough to have to fix it.

     
     
     
    • R. Wayne Grant
    • Director, American Congregational Association

    To me, judgment is more wisdom than experience; wisdom, in turn, is shaped by total life immersion, and is best applied when used with broad focus, solid awareness of situation, cultural and moral relevance, and true intellectual agility. Therefore, I think, a sense of personal integrity, self confidence and humility are more important than experience.

     
     
     
    • Gregory Bownik
    • Teaching Partner, Bethel University

    Does judgement trump experience? I would have to say yes. However, experience can lead to better judgement over time. I think the cognitive domain of Bloom's Taxonomy provides a frame of reference for how good judgement trumps experience. A situation can call for basic knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, or evaluation. If a manger has twenty years experience making judgements in the knowledge, comprehension and application realms, a recent graduate (with only a few years of experience) from an MBA program, who has learned to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate, can probably make much better higher level decisions and use better judgement than the more experienced manager. Furthermore, experienced managers who limit themselves to less complex judgements, those in the knowledge, comprehension, and application realms of Bloom's Taxonomy, are not growing as leaders and are unable to take on the more complex demands of managing a more diverse workforce in a knowledge-based economy. So yes, judgement can and does trump experience in most cases.

     
     
     
    • Ben Teehankee
    • De La Salle Professional Schools

    I think that experience can lead to improved judgment (wisdom, perhaps) ONLY with careful reflection (like Jennifer Davis' point) guided by sound values (like Malvin Bernal's point). Experience gives a basis for what succeeds but values provide the criteria for defining success to begin with.

    Because of the complexity of organizations and the outcomes leaders aspire for, it isn't easy evaluating the quality of leadership judgment but I would favor a longer term evaluation horizon than a shorter one. In fact, the temptation of leaders to succumb to the short-term orientation of the market is the main reason that reflection is not given the time it deserves -- therefore preventing the development of judgment in many leaders. Another reason is the rush of the leader to build a name for himself or herself.

    I think that judgment trumps experience. Someone pointed out that "practice makes perfect"; "practice makes permanent". And without judgment, such permanent behavior isn't any more than compulsion.

     
     
     
    • Jay Somasundaram
    • Systems Analyst

    The scientific evidence appears to be that it is experience that teaches good, practical, situational judegement:

    "Chess grand masters are successful, not because they engage in more sophisticated reasoning procedures than weekend players, but because they have access to knowledge unavailable to others. If anything, it is the less expert players who must engage in complex chains of reasoning but, of course, these are likely to overburden working memory. Novice players must engage in such reasoning, not because it is particularly effective but rather, because they do not have access to knowledge that is effective. When translated to the field of instructional design, it follows that instruction should facilitate domain specific knowledge acquisition, not very general reasoning strategies that cannot possibly be supported by human cognitive architecture." (p255)"[Studies] in a variety of domains during the late 1970s and early 1980s ..... confirmed that the major factor distinguishing novice from expert problem solvers was not knowledge of sophisticated, general problem-solv ing strategies but, rather, knowledge of an enormous number of problem states and their associated moves." (p 254)

    Sweller, J., van Merrienboer, J., & Paas, F. (1998). Cognitive Architecture and Instructional Design. Educational Psychology Review, 10(3), 251-296.

    However, I would suggest that the question itself is rather reductionistic and simplistic. It stems from the reductionist assumption that "judgment is the quintessential leadership task", rather than a more holistic definition of leadership as inflencing and motivating a community.

    A real world "problem" rarely boils down to a single "Decision". Rather there is a complex web of moving issues that a community of players attempt to influence towards an optimum.

    Lao Tzu's words are particularly apt:

    The best kings are scarcely recognised by their subjects.... When the best kings achieve their purpose Their subjects claim the achievement as their own.

     
     
     
    • Gerald Schultz
    • CEO, Milward Alloys & Management Consultant

    I believe that the most important factor missing from this discussion is how one measures the results of a leader's decision. I can't compare the results of good judgement or experience unless I have some way to measure the results of a leaders decision. Unfortunately results are usually measured differently by different people and are only valid at the time they are measured. A good leader understands this and has a vision of how his or her results will be measured. A President of a country must consider his or her team, his constituents and the press. The CEO of a public company must consider his or her Board and the shareholders. A good leader understands what results are needed to be successful. Experience is important but judgement, the right vision, is far more important.

     
     
     
    • Chintamani Rao

    The short answer is, yes. If it has to be one of the two it must be judgement: experience without judgement is of no use. The question, though, is how do you develop judgement? It cannot be intuitive or from theroretical knowledge. Relevant experience -- combined with the ability to process it -- must be the foundation of judgement capability.

     
     
     
    • Andrew Obara
    • FRIENDS Consult Ltd, Uganda

    Would you rahter eat or breathe? According to biological faculties, eating facilitates breathing(nutrition & calories to remain alive & breathe) and breathing facilitates the usefulness of eating(metabolism). The simple answer is that you need both.

    Experience is an accumulation of what we have learnt from the consequences of past judgements by us or other people. Judgement is the discretion, analysis, conclusion and decisions we take as a result of our natural aptitude and experience (or lack of it). As a management and business development consultant, I find that judgement and experience mix curiously for optimum solutions to be reached. My conclusion, therefore, is that JUDGEMENT DOES NOT TRUMP EXPERIENCE, BUT THE TWO MUTUALLY ENHANCE EACH OTHER.

     
     
     
    • Wangolo David Ivan
    • Economist, Platform Group

    I have read some very compelling arguments all built out of experience and none of them is any better or worse than the other. This is simply because we build experiences out of different circumstances, and what we choose to or unconciously learn will be dependant on those circumstances; both internal and external. Inherently this makes experience tend towards subjective rather than objective tones.

    Judgement on the other hand presupposes the choice to act. The action we take will constantly be affected by external factors and how we choose to adapt or not will ultimately define the decison made as good or bad. Judgement therefore tends to be objective rather than subjective, eventualy

    Considering the above, I think that experience cannot be measured and defined; we cannot be sure of what will be done with the experience however judgement will ultimately be defined and measured (good or bad). There ceratainly exits greater predictability in an environment that thrives on judgement than on experience.

     
     
     
    • Joseph Toelle
    • Engineering Associate, The Camp Doctor, Inc.

    No, judgement is deemed "good" or "bad" only in hindsight, and, at different points in time. Experience is applicable and valuable into the future.

    Operating officers may be asked for a particular judgement call because of their sole authority to make the decision; they may be asked to exercise "judgement" because no one else wants to risk the consequences of "bad judgement."

    Experience is a result of judgement, good or bad, which colors future decisions that are similiar but it does nothing to improve the decision-making quality of "judgement."

    Regardless of an individual's total life experience, they still "Don't know what they don't know!"

    Many individuals who are recognized as successful in a particular culture or community, have often said . . . if given a choice, they would rather be lucky than smart.

     
     
     
    • Mohammad Razipour
    • Marketing & Business Development Manager, KAYSON Co.

    Basis of judgments is either experience, or intuition,or a mixture of both. With varying degrees, entrepreneurs are gifted with the intuition and that subtle discerning faculty which enables them to distinguish the good from the bad. As we know management is nothing but making the correct decisions in right times and implementing those decisions effectively. In making decisions, managers (or leaders) calculate risks and consider past behaviors and trends. The degree of risks that leaders are willing to take is directly related to their faith in the matter being discussed which can affect their overall judgment.

     
     
     
    • Fred Pritikin
    • Principal, Justin Harris Associates

    Judgment trumps experience. An individual can have 20 years' experience or one year experience repeated 20 times. Judgment is the synthesis of intelligence, exposure, sensitivity and direction. Implementing good judgment is the challenge.

     
     
     
    • David Matta
    • President, dagpa

    Sound judgment is a relative term that makes you feel good when you want to justify good results but has no meaning in and of itself if it is not related to results achieved and to a certain time frame. A sound judgment is still neutral until the course is taken and the results evaluated "judgementally". If the results are judged bad, one deduces that it was not a sound judgment. There is a subjective judgment of both present and past. However three additional scenarios may arise, the first if the good results could have been better had we taken another course, two if the good results achieved today do not last but reverse after a period of time, three if the bad results today are good tomorrow. For the first, we may say that there is always the possibility of a "sounder" judgment whereas for the latter we deduce that that neither good nor bad judgments overlast time, but that they set a history course. Judgments made in our personal lives as well as made by business and political leaders set a history course rather than provide intellectual material about sound judgment.

    Therefore, rather than stress the development of "good" judgment one has to resign to an "appropriate" judgment that is based on an objective evaluation of the situation in terms of resources, capacities, values, experience, and most of all vision and goals. Experience is an ingredient among others to provide insight into a situation but in itself it does not set a course. Vision and goals set a course that makes you at time, forgo a lot of experience and assumptions. Life is so rich and unpredictable. It is pregnant with infinite possibilities that one can always achieve relative successes and failures depending upon what goals one sets and under what angle one looks at results. In my view, it is naive to expect an absolute sound judgment. Irrespective of the direction one takes, there are opportunities and threats on the way that set a direction made as much by choice as by the analysis of a situation.

    In an organization setting, sound judgment is measured to the extent the organization in its current identity thrives and survives. However, in an environment of openness, infinite possibilities and correlation, who says that an organization is better to thrive and survive rather than reinvent itself and even metamorphose?

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Personal judgment can only excel and gratify those around them when the motivating factor is not his or her's personal agenda. All the experience in the world doesn't matter if the person using personal judgment can't see how it affects the big picture. Yes you can train someone's way of thinking and actions to a problem, but you can't train the level of self maturity needed to have great and effective personal judgment. Self control and self maturity doesn't come with age but is learned. Egos, offended attitudes, selfish attitudes and those who feel threaten can and do get in the way of great and effective personal judgment. Leadership and integrity in any field is truly hard to find. Leadership, ethics, and integrity are some of the qualities that help a person make great personal judgments. You are only as good as your teacher and what you have been taught because we all emulate our teachers or mentors. You want more of your staff making better personal judgments, you need to teach them how and don't assume they already know or are capable. It is the level of self maturity, leadership, ethics, and integrity that determines the level of personal judgment.

     
     
     
    • Fabina Schonholz
    • www.fabianschonholz.com

    I have not read the publication, but from the post I can give you my opinion:

    Good judgment comes from evaluating ALL of our experiences and creating a personal value system based on those experience. When confronted with a decision, the personal value system kicks in and we cast our judgment.

    Without experiences there is no judgment. Without learning from our experiences, there is no good judgment.

     
     
     
    • Tom Weston
    • VP Technical Services, Sabroso Company

    If there is a "formula for judgemental success" and the components of the formula can be defined as: intelligence, instincts, knowledge, experience, talent - the ability to see/hear/apply for results, exposure, etc - how does one balance the formula with the enviromental input necessary for conclusive closure. Successful survival requires a leader to constantly reset the formula to meet the challenges of judgement - which provides observers the opportunity to assess the individuals judgement.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    If all the prior statements were true, everything noted is found at Ford Corp., General Motors Corp., and Chrysler Corp. Then, Why are these companies no longer the shining stars of the automotive world? Their highly experienced, flawless judgement, ethnocentric executives went to Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, Michigan, Univ/Chicago, Penn State, Ohio State, ThunderBird, etc., all the top business executive schools.

     
     
     
    • MCF
    • Consultant, Self employed

    Elementary as it is, I am reminded of a story of the traveling neophyte who makes innocent but insulting remarks to those unfamiliar folk he meets along the way. He is near beaten at every turn but rejoins those offended at each turn with: "Forgive me - I am young and not wise to the ways of the world". Our traveler is forgiven and spared a beating each time, but continues on edified and has learned not make that same mistake again...

    Aside from possible divine intervention we are bound to make mistakes first for lack of experience - be it in youth -or from other gaps in cognition or failed communication.

    I would argue that good judgment, which is equivalent to a good decision (our goal here, I expect) must be a result of our relevant experience. If the decision turns out bad, we can only hope to avoid the proverbial beating.

     
     
     
    • Devamalya De
    • Assistant Manager - Projects, Oberoi Constructions Pvt. Ltd.

    In selecting leaders what is important is the richness & variety of experience, frank feedback from the person as to instances when he/she had applied his learnings from his / her experiences in making rational judgments in decision-making (tool for measuring judgement).

    Judgment capability is largely a function of experience that is rich - not just wide but deep. Many times people with n years' experience may have one year's experience repeated n times which is not likely to contribute much towards wise and meaningful judgment.

    Along with richness of experience is required an analytical mind which is able to soak lessons from the experience. Then only what can be expected is the most rational and wise judgement for the particular instant of time or circumstance (many judgments in the hindsight may appear to be unwise; but the same should be weighed in the time and circumstance and sort of being in the shoes exercise) in question.

    Recent decisions can be considered as good judgments if such decisions have resulted in more individuals, communities etc being better off as a result of the decision compared to those (ideally none) being worse off.

    Relevant experience in organizations that have performed well must be considered along with someone's opinion of the person's judgement. One has to account for informed value judgment of the person giving his opinion. So ideally if the opinion of a large number of people (large sample population) is available and they are in consonance, the experience part can be overlooked.

    Judgement trumps experience only so far as it is the filtered by an analytical mind in the sieve of reason, logic and rationality. Experience is like a book; judgment is what is retained when one is through with the book.

     
     
     
    • Peter Athans
    • Customer Program Manager, Eastman Kodak

    Every experience we have is subject to our judgement at the time we experience it. Without accurately judging the significance or our experiences, experience is worthless. Judgement is the trump card. That being said, even those with good judgement need experience.

     
     
     
    • Kala Maturi
    • CEO, www.igottest.com

    It is a double edged sword. They complement each other depending on the situation. Experience helps the judgment in familiar terrains. But venturing into un-chartered territories, experience clouds the judgment and may prevent the decision maker from making a decision. Entrepreneurship is one subject area where this topic is played out every day in the world. Currently, this question is put in front of the voters by the presidential contenders Obama and Clinton.

     
     
     
    • Kapil Kumar Sopory
    • Company Secretary, SMEC (India) Private Limited

    No leader is good without sound judgmental faculty since faulty judgments would lead to performance going awry. Leaders have to shoulder a plethora of functions they perform and are expected to have a clear insight of the processes involved right from the grassroots nitty-gritties upwards. These important technicalities are learnt over time and experiece nurtures the knowledge. Having faced situations,good, bad and indifferent, the good leader takes a grip of the situations for handling to the best of his/her abilities. This done, the final decision making needs good judgment so that the nail is hit where it can penetrate easily and efforts fructify in an appropriate action. In my view,therefore, both experience and judgment have to be combined and judgment does and should trump experience. In fact, both are insufficient and incomplete without each other.

     
     
     
    • Ali Safari
    • Managing Consultant, Knowledge Era Team

    Knowledge, as a phenomenon whose presence and advantages in each part of people's life gradually becomes conspicuous, composed of various elements including experience. Knowledge on its way creates several products such as judgments and it can be crystallized in three realms: individuals, organizations and society.

    People's knowledge has substantial effect on judgments in leadership (in realm of individuals) and experience, is one of its several inputs. One should bear it in mind that Knowledge and Knowing have a perplexing proximity, that is each Knowledge is necessarily a Knowing but the reverse is not necessarily true.

    From the view point of individuals, each experience is at least effective in two fields: Knowledge Pool and Knowing Pool. No mention that both of these fields will be the source of judgments in the other situations and they can make experiences effective, applicable and permanent in people.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    As politically incorrect as it may be, after about 5 decades of kicking around organizations big and small, public and private a located in Asia , Europe and NA, I have come to the conclusion that leadership and its incumbent judgement is more like musical or artistic talent than like walking or learning to read.

    I don't think it can be learned or taught to everyone. We have all heard the musician who studied well and graduated who plays the notes correctly but somehow the music is absent. Another, gifted, with the same training, plays the same piece and the music soars and evokes tears. It is not a function of age or experience or training. It is a function of talent.

    I have had the privilege of selecting or advising on the selection and training of a great many individuals and been around long enough to see what worked and what did not. For example, Ike was promoted Supreme Commander Allied Forces in WWII over others more experienced, he was young, green and made numerous errors while learning. but he had the capacity to get it right. Others, or the vast majority of others anyway, however trained or experienced, could not do so.

    It takes courage for a leader to pick a leader who is nacent over the present and more obvious candidate. but it works especially if there is a decent support system for the new entrant.

    Anybody who gets to be President of the USA, ANYBODY, who gets there has a lot going for them. They all have moves. In that context I thinks it comes down to who's best for the time e.g. President Ford is looking better every day.

    There are data that hint that key relevant behaviors and characteristics which I believe underlie judgement are visible and measurable in childhood psychological experiments (The Happiness Hypothesis:Haidt"pp 18).

    We are not all equal. We can not all be leaders...or all the time. And (here's the rub for some). One can not get to be one through external activities such as schooling. One of the key little lessons they taught me at " A well known eastern Business School" is that training is not a substitute for talent. but it sure helps the talented

     
     
     
    • Dr. K. S. Ramachandra
    • General Manager, Star Orechem Internationa Ltd

    Before I make any comment on Judgment-Experience and Winning Leaders chain, I would like to quote some statements (or judgments?) passed in the past by many leaders of successful companies/institutions

    "Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction". --Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

    "The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon". --Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

    "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." --Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

    "Everything that can be invented has been invented." --Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

    "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

    "Aeroplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." --Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

    "Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." --Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

    "The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." --A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

    "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

    "I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." --The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

    "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." --Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962

    "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

    "640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Bill Gates, 1981 Individuals who have made the above statements are experienced with expertise, (and pioneers in some cases) and successful to different extents in each of their respective fields.

    One will take that such statements are made as a result of judgments made by them with the aid of their leadership, knowledge, ( or we call "experience"?), insight , analysis, anticipation( vision?), agility, and many other qualities. It just cannot be said that these leaders lacked in any of these attributes but definitely can be said that they erred in fully applying all these resources in the process of making judgment.

    This also supports a view point at least partly that "experience" is not a sufficient condition for sound judgment. Experience with deeper and broader insight and analysis and long term vision would have helped many of the afore mentioned leaders to avoid making such judgment errors and still they are highly regarded and successful leaders in their area of business/ activity ( viz.,H.M. Warner, Bill Gates, Thomas Watson , Ken Olson , Lord Kelvin) despite, in some cases there is utter lacking in long term vision.

    This again , to me ,establishes that leaders and even successful leaders do mistakes irrespective of their position, experience/ knowledge and leadership. But good leaders learn a lot from such mistakes and minimize errors in judgmens in due course unlike bad leaders. This also provides a clue that if one wants to device a scale to measure "judgment capability " of an individual, his experience and leadership position of course ,can be the parameters but not with higher weightage.

    Though scientists normally avoid making 'judgments", many great scientists have postulated (made judgments?) in many areas of their work and many of them have been valid till this day and a few of them have been proved invalid but still we regard all of them as great scientists.

    This also points to a situation that some judgments will be successful at a particular point of time or for limited period and some remain successful for very long time and ultimately may become obsolete. This is very true in business and technology too.
    Extraordinary leaders with strong vision make judgments and consequent decisions against stiff opposition, un-favourable environment , criticism and all odds and come out successful in their mission. Some of them in Indian context in the recent past are Ratan Tata (Rs.1 lakh /car), N.R.Narayana Murthy (Infosys founder) and in these kind of leaders there is another quality called "commitment and conviction" which supports them in turning their judgments and hence their decisions successful and long lasting.

    Thus, for successful leaders commitment and conviction are also an important requirement to make their judgment and hence decisions successful and if this is lacking ,chances of failure are high. Mahatma Gandhi is an example of another such great leader who showed the world his judgments and decisions on many moral and political issues were correct and sustainable with his strong commitment and conviction in everything he believed in. Thus, belief in ones own judgment and decisions and readiness to learn from mistakes and make amendments is another important characteristic of a leader. At this point one may ask; for a statement "640K ought to be enough for anybody" made by Bill Gates , should he have believed in his own judgment and continued with it? No. This was an error in judgment and as a great leader he corrected it and surged ahead.

    Another important characteristic trait that the leaders with best judgment capability will have is making judgment and hence decisions taking different perspectives and viewpoints before making judgment .In politics this is a very important trait required in high dose for a leader to win hearts of his customers -people . He has to get into the shoes of many segments of population before judging and deciding his strategy in order to gain maximum acceptability.

    Crises or unexpected situation need not be the opportunity for great leaders to make god judgment and decisions and they may even make good or bad judgment in crises or unexpected.

    Knowledge need not always lead to good judgment. Knowledge in many facets ( wider breadth and slight depth ) is important for good judgment . A top nuclear scientist with indepth knowledge can tell the power of a nuclear arsenal and knows how to assemble for use but he may not be good in assessing the suitability of time and context for use as he normally does not posses broader political, international and tactical knowledge for which a war strategist is called for.

    To sum up hurriedly, I believe, a leader with broader perspective, knowledge( both borrowed or self learned by experience) , strong commitment , conviction and strong vision will make right judgment and decisions than one based on experience only and experience is one of the supports in good judgment capability.

     
     
     
    • Mayur Vegad
    • Structural engineer, Buro Happold Consulting Engineers Ltd., Dubai

    Judgement can be made and brought into action by courage either by:

    1) Theoretical study of the subject in the required context and all the factors related to that context.

    2) Experience which has been analysing the subject in the required context.

    True leaders with better 'judement capability' are those having point no. 2 with the awareness of the requirement of point no. 1, shown by the action they have taken in the past.

    Courage is an important factor, but leaders with ethics have to be selected with a careful judgement of ethical values depending on the bussiness they are required for.

    So the answer is yes, 'judgement capability' is more important than just an 'experience' while choosing a better leader.

    Thank you,

     
     
     
    • Gaurav Goel
    • PGPX, IIM Ahmedabad

    Experience enhances judgment, but sound judgments can be made with limited experience in a particular field. There have been many business leaders who have consistently made good judgments in diverse business fields.

    The secret of a good business judgment lies in application of basics of economics, human psychology and understanding of cultural context. In the fast changing world, business leaders have to make judgments in situations that never existed before. New products are getting sold through channels that no one could imagine few years back and to customer segments that never existed before. People are bringing their generic experiences and are applying it to new situations. In some cases no experience is an asset as it does not influence judgment in a scenario that is very different from anything that has happened in past. We have repeatedly seen young people with limited experience making successful businesses out of radical ideas. These success stories are not limited to technology companies, there have been many innovations in even in traditional fields like manufacturing, banking and transportation.

     
     
     
    • Matthew Ewoldt
    • Safety Manager, Fort A. P. Hill

    In my view, a "judgement call", is the ability and willingness to make a decision when information is either limited or conflicting and guidelines are either non-existent or negatively impact the ability to complete the task or mission. Based on this view, there are two aspects to "judgement calls" - nature and nuture. Nature is the hard side and is comprised of the knowledge, ability and skills required to make plans. Nuture is the soft side - the human "heart and soul" and is the willingness to make the tough calls...to go out on a limb. Willingness to make "judgement calls" is then a reflection of the leaders that you grew up during your formative years. I "came of age" and spent many years in a culture than expected and supported the expectation that leaders were to make "judgement calls" . As a result, I feel very comfortable living "on the edge" - the grey zone where the path is barely visible and risks rise like flowers in April. The bottom line: are your leaders willing to allow you to make judgement calls without their permission - or even their knowledge?

     
     
     
    • Amarjit Singh
    • Senior Research Fellow, United Service Institution of India

    This is an excellent discussion but we need to distinguish between the issues at hand.

    The relationship between experience and judgment is not so difficult to understand - judgment does require experience but not all experience is relevant to the judgment that we are required to exercise at any given time. Breadth of experience does improve judgment but repetitive experience of the same kind can hardly improve judgment. In fact we may conclude that repetitive experience of the same kind only reinforces a narrow perception. This thread in the discussion implies that judgment is an algorithmic function and the 'algorithm' improves through a broad 'test' program that is in effect generated by the diversity of experiences (different scenarios). This helps us distinguish between generalists and specialists in management, with generalists holding sway the higher we go.

    The issue of how experience and judgment are relevant in the choice of leadership is actually different from the foregoing. Leadership is more than a 'process' with experience and judgment contributing to the 'decision'. This is similar to discussing differences between 'management' and 'leadership'. Several earlier comments have pointed out the role of 'values', 'commitment' and 'vision'. The difference between leaders and managers, both with similar 'judgment capability' and 'experience' is the attachment that leaders have to certain outcomes. This gives leaders the ability to undergo greater pain and take greater risks when aiming for the outcomes they consider desirable. The best examples can be taken from the military domain and family led businesses. Young officers with limited experience 'lead' platoons and companies of experienced soldiers into combat with much greater risks to their own lives than of the experienced soldiers that they lead. Arguably, the experienced non-commisssioned officers have better judgment and experience; yet the leader's role transcends these inputs. The very essence of entrepreneurship goes beyond judgment as a functional capability and experience as an input. 'Well led' family businesses have a natural edge over 'professionally managed' businesses, all other things being equal. Good leaders have the ability to choose advisors with sound judgment and the experience that they may not have.

    So how is a leader to be chosen? I submit that the leader has to lead in a particular organizational culture and an external context. If the internal processes are well developed and the external environment less confusing, the leader's commitment to certain outcomes should be foremost. The leader needs to be more 'flexible' when the external environment is not so clear. Blind adherence to certain outcomes would be bad for the organization. Such a leader would be a 'strong' leader but not necessarily successful. If the internal processes of decision-making are not so well developed, the leader would need more of 'judgment ability' and experience.

    Therefore the mix of judgment, experience and the personal attributes of leadership are appropriate for particular situations. A successful leader in the US would be different from the one in China who would in turn be different from the one in India.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    If experience is measured by the time someone has spent in a specific industry or position we are assuming that the person is constantly learning. If that is the case it can be argued that experience is necessary to develop and enhance a individual's ability to make judgement decisions.

    However, many employees in the work force reach their learning capacity at a certain point of their career. More times than not, it falls early in the career and daily tasks become more repetitive than challenging. Along with that comes the loss of enthusiasm and passion for the industry that once inspired them before they slowly pushed their hopes aside for realities. Is the person with the most seniority at your company the person you would trust with the important decisions? If he/she has been at the company so long because they were affraid to leave their "comfort zone," I would not want them leading my future. If they have been at the company since 1934 and have turned that company into a major player in their given industry, sure. Make all the decisions with our trust behind them.

    Someone with decades of experience is not any better at making judgements than someone with less experience. Companies want the best people in the main positions. If the CEO of Company X has 40 years of service under his/her belt and it works out for them, great. If Company Y has a CEO in his/her twenties but they have proved themselves to be great leaders, fine.

    Leadership is something that the great brains of our world have been able to learn, but for most, it is an instinct that few are truely fortunate enough to have.

     
     
     
    • Santhanam Krishnan
    • Asst.General Manager, Saraswat Bank

    While judgements do trump experience, it is more often a function of personal guts and ability to go along the path of that judgement, is what distinguishes a leader. If leadership is the factor which drives growth of a corporate, its prime engine should be, the ability to decide and take right action. Undoubtedly, a leader's experience which drives his/her judgements, should not hamper him/her from taking the necessary calls on account of "previous experience". Under many uncertain operating environments, leaders also have access to collective wisdom of peers and colleagues. Here too what ultimately prevails is the leader's decision. Gen. Eisenhower's D-Day launch in World War II is a classic example.

    Very often we have seen experienced leaders suffer from the paralysis of analysis and consequent procrastination. It is apt quote here a pertinent remark of late Prime Minister of India, Mr.P.V. Narasimha Rao who once opined - "In certain situations, not to take a decision is also a decision" - certainly judgement do trump experience!

    On the contrary, we have also considerable evidence of inexperienced leaders, achieving spectacular results in their chosen spheres in the corporate world, merely on the basis of their raw guts and a dogged belief to go ahead on their chosen path - substituting "experience". We lable them as entrepreneurs. Many such leaders have been rewarded with great success, fame and name.

    In these days of inter-disciplinary approach to solving problems and achieving growth, one gets to see the "collective experience" driving decisions of enterprises. The million dollar question is - does the leader utilize the collective experience to judge and arrive at a decision? A leader's role in these situations becomes more crucial, as his judgements and consequent decision, are a derivative of "collective experience".

    The acid-test of a leadership lies in the ability of a leader to own up his decision and stay accountable. Good corporate governance should ensure that. After all at the end of the day, an investor's concern is not only a well run corporate - on the basis of sound decisions based on judgements - but also a healthy bottom line. Perhaps, a logical expectation based on experience!

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Like several other respondents, I find it difficult to separate the concepts of judgement and experience.

    Of these two, I feel that good judgement is the more valuable; however, judgement is essentially a function of experience - the more experience one has, the more 'tuned' one's judgement is likely to be. It doesn't necessarily have to be the same experience, as long as parallels can be drawn between the experience and the current situation.

    A number of commentators here have equated 'good decisions' with 'good judgement'. While I agree that good judgement very often leads to a good decision, it does not follow that a good decision was the reuslt of good judgement.

    Without experience that can be drawn on and applied to the current situation, a good decision is often no more than the result of good luck!

     
     
     
    • Sivaram Parameswaran

    Undoubtedly a leader, at the end of the day, is known for the judgment calls he made with the right strategy, direction, people, and the moment he stands at the brink of a crisis, where the judgment call will very well decide how tall he stands. As the authors had suggested, one of the key ingredient in making effective judgment calls is, for the leader 'to be a good learner'. In many of the leaders, that learning definitely includes, learning from experience.

    Seldom can one disaffiliate experience from judgment calls. Judgment capability is very much a function of experience and it is a question of what kind of experience one carries forward. What kind of experience one learns from. As they say, good judgment comes from experience, but experience comes from bad judgment! One can very easily qualify this much required experience as, Wisdom, which again adds merit to the theory that judgment cannot be taught, but can very well be learnt - assimilated in the mind from experience or with association from people who have been there, done that.

    How many times in politics and business success stories have we learnt of sage wisdom prevailing over pure common sense in making judgment calls and the contrary too, where history tells us of numerous instances of failed judgment calls rich in their naivety. Agreed that having a rider of past experience can dissipate our decision making and curtail the flow of free mind, but failing to learn from experience, especially the bad ones, makes many a repeat offender that can show the leader in such a poor character.

     
     
     
    • Ankur
    • System Engg., TCS

    What really matters is quality of experience rather the quantiy of experience. I may pass years in a job without any significant effort but this will not do any value addition to me.

    People with good judegement skills are not born with them but rather they acquire these capabilities through their experience. The different events which we come accross in our life hone our skills.

    These events may not job specific , they can be anything from kind of education we recieve or environemnt in which we grow up or values which are set into us as we grow up.

    It also depends upon how much an individual learns or makes an effort to learn from his surroundings and his own past experinces.

    Judgement can never trumph experience as it evolves from experience. But we need to take care while we define experience.

    Do you define experience just a number of years or as amount of exposure?

     
     
     
    • Ashutosh Tiwari
    • CEO, Himalmedia

    Judgment trumps experience.

    One can have all the experience in the world, but one or two errors of judgment can undo years of hard work, not to mention carefully cultivated reputation.

    Exercising good judgment requires an ability to ask searching yet open-ended questions to learn from one's own and other people's diverse experiences in a variety of contexts and time lines.

    This process thus calls for and ability to gather hard data, soft intuitions and churn them up with all sorts of fully formed and half-baked thoughts. Plus, it requires a calm sense of possibilities that lie ahead.

    All that learning can then be distilled to decide how to chart a course ahead even when there is some uncertainty. Judgement thus mixes what's known with what's unknown, and helps make a decision anyway.

    In this sense, exercising judgement calls for embarking on a process of deliberate inquiry. In a business setting, that process usually comes with a deadline to emerge with an action plan (even if, at the end, that action is "to do nothing").

    Relying on experience, on the other hand, calls for relying on personal, subjective experiences that took place in the past, from which correct lessons may not be drawn for the future.

    Such lessons may suffer from various biases that afflict human decision-making processes. One person's experience in one particular context in a particular time line may not translate well into similar work in another context and another timeline.

     
     
     
    • Jim Winkelmann (OPM 38)
    • Blue Ocean Portfolios

    This is an issue in paradox. To quote novelist Rita Mae Brown; "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment".

    The investment industry is laced with stories of bad judgments based on good experiences. Of course the story of Long Term Capital is probably is the quintessential example that no should ever forget. Long Term Capital Management brought together a team of two Nobel Laureates at least fifteen mathematic PhD's and a half dozen Wall Street pros. Merrill Lynch, UBS and host of other sophisticated global financial services all determined that it was good judgment to invest and/or lend to LTCM. That decision almost led to a global financial panic. A classic case of bad judgment based on good experience.

    It is a fool's game to base investment decision on experience. The ability of portfolio manager to determine and judge whether the value of an asset will rise or fall can never be based on what how their past judgments paid off - at least there is no logical or evidentiary process to prove or disprove that this past judgment applies applies to future events. For a candidate to tout their use of good judgment or experience as a reason to cast a ballet for them does not hold up to the test of logic or evidence either. It would be a fool's game to base our vote on past experience or judgment. No one knows what unique set of circumstances a leader will be faced with tomorrow.

    The reality is framed by George Bernard Shaw when he most eloquently states "Youth is Wasted on the Young." Oh if we could only take our experiences back in time and inject them into our once youthful selves!

     
     
     
    • Fidel Davila, MD, MSMM
    • Founder/Senior Consultant, objectHEALTH

    "Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgment" You cannot have one without the other.

    Everyone needs experience to be able to develop or hone good judgment. Nevertheless, experience from bad judgment is no guarantee that anyone will learn from their experiences and develop good judgment.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Two ideas from Colin Powell on information (data) as related to exp/judgement:

    LESSON THREE "Don't be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment.

    LESSON FIFTEEN Part I: "Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired." Part II: "Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut."

    Powell's advice is don't take action if you have only enough information to give you less than a 40 percent chance of being right, but don't wait until you have enough facts to be 100 percent sure, because by then it is almost always too late. His instinct is right: Today, excessive delays in the name of information-gathering needs analysis paralysis. Procrastination in the name of reducing risk actually increases risk.

     
     
     
    • John Segerstrom
    • Managing Partner, PQMResearch, Inc.

    In my work, I have faced what I think is the same issue raised by the authors and critiqued here. With I hope the understanding of all, I've labeled it "Proficiency vs. Expertise": I've observed that the difference is that the proficient have little or no respect for the unknown, and must apparently make mistakes to achieve such respect, at which point some level of expertise can emerge.

    It has become my view that this is a flaw in our education process, broadly. In North Carolina, "Skepticism" is first taught at the elementary school level - sensitivity to what is either assumed in the information's evolution, or is unknown, in any available analysis. In this, the State makes an attempt to temper proficiency into expertise without the cost of experience's mistakes.

     
     
     
    • Vasudev Das
    • Scholar, IFAST

    If we take into account the endogenous and exogenous factors that account for sound judgment then we would be driven to the point that experience does not necessarily trump judgment. The three qualitative modes of material nature - goodness, passion and ignorance, for instance, play significant roles in our experience and judgment call. The probability of experience trumping judgment is one over infinity, that is, most unlikely, for a leader under the auspices of the qualitative mode of passion cum ignorance; antithetically, the experience of one who is impelled by transcendental goodness could be an excellent tool in judgment call for organizational upward mobility. The case of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the Indian sub-continent is very intriguing. Sri Caitanya MAhaprabhu as mere teenager excelled in philosophical debate with highly experienced scholars like Prakasananda Saraswati and colleagues.
    Or we can look at it from another perspective: If experience is devoid of critical, creative and caring thinking skills it is most likely that it would not engender judgment call whereas experience replete with critical, creative and caring thinking skills will most likely enhance judgment.

     
     
     
    • Greg Bayne
    • Operations Manager, The Catalyst Group

    A Truly Great Leader is someone who displays great judgement all of the time due to and sometimes in spite of experience.

    A poor leader is someone who thinks they have great judgement because of their experience.

    An aspiring leader is someone who seeks great judgement and seeks experiences that will form the basis of great judgement.

     
     
     
    • Girish Shah
    • President, Agile Business Consultants

    A leader exercises judgment when there is no clear choice or when there are conflicting demands. Experience and information do guide to a certain extent, but the final decision rests on judgment which is based on personal Values lived by the leader.

    Years ago, Ratan Tata, the leader of Tata Group, was advised by a leading US Consulting firm on turning a loss making / sick Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO the largest steel maker in India) profitable. The first advice from consultants was to immediately reduce the headcount by large scale layoff. Mr. Tata made a judgment call against it.... Based on TATA code of conduct and Values. It took a little longer with attrition but ended up with a highly profitable TISCO with very high morale and loyal workforce.

    Generally for critical decisions "Value" guided judgment trumps solely "Experience" guided judgment. When deep experience and high values both guide the Judgement the leader wins.

     
     
     
    • Prasad
    • analyst, TCS

    Judgement is something where a person did his research on others' experience and comes to a conclusion, but experience is where you learn it on hand and try to use that. It can be as good as Theory Vs Practicals..

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    I've really enjoyed reading all the well-reasoned commentary from everyone on this subject. I share the perspective with several other posters that judgment comes from experience, but only if that experience is relevant. The point about learning from adverse experience and how that contributes to the ability to make good judgments is well-taken and aligns to my own experiences. The more diverse the [relevant] experience, the greater the potential for exercising good judgment.

    One final comment - that quotation "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgment" cited by many but attributed to various sources is also sourced to the humorist Will Rodgers. Does anyone have a definitive source for this one?

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Judgement and leadership entail experience and are inextricably interlinked.

    An excellent example occurred when I was one of a late night trio with Rear-Admiral Sir Anthony Miers VC and Peter Jay. Peter and I had trained as naval officers under Miers, who won the Victoria Cross (the highest British decoration for gallantry) as a WW2 submariner. He was a redoubtable naval character who had played rugby and boxed for the Royal Navy, and won his VC by a remarkable act of judgement and courage.

    Peter cross-examined Miers as to why he had not been sent for court martial when it transpired that Peter had filed off an "impeding" projection in the breech of a gun which caused the barrel to fly off when a blank was fired the next day at Admiral's inspection, the Admiral being the rather terrifying Miers. Jay "You were required by regulation to forward my papers for Court Martial". Miers "I always do what the regulations require. But I sent a covering letter saying that I thought this was an understandable excess of zeal on the part of a very capable young officer, and if the Admiralty wanted to court martial anyone, they could start with me" . Peter was never court martialled, and though we could not anticipate this, both being Oxford undergraduates, he subsequently became the British Ambassador in Washington.

    I consider this to be an outstanding example of judgement and leadership combined, and an example of why Miers' men would follow him anywhere, even when he decided to surface his submarine in an enemy harbour at night to charge his batteries so he could attack successfully at dawn.

     
     
     
    • P.G. Pawar
    • Advisor & Consultant, Metis India

    Both Experience and Judgment are 'contextual'. It is important therefore to 'wisely process' both the 'experiences' we have had and the 'judgments' we have made with respect to the context we were in. The learning from each can certainly strengthen our 'wisdom' to chose one or the other based on our ability to 'synthesise' knowledge from each by delenieting the parameters involved and picking the 'relevant' ones for the present.

     
     
     
    • Vijay Kansara
    • MD, NIF

    The experience has a major role to play in making judgments. However, impressive judgment is more relevant when the leader is aware and live connected with current topics surrounding those with whom he is dealing.

    According to me, it's a 80-20 Principal.

     
     
     
    • Luigi Giavina-Bianchi
    • CEO, STRULA Consultoria Empresarial

    There is no experience with the future, and we will be living solely in the future. The past experince will allow us analogies to inform our decisions, but is judgement that will define our actions.

    In a rapidly changing environment the possible analogies diminuish; judgment will have to rely more and more on the values we receaved from our mother and on our willingness to make a difference.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    Judgements are made every day, by everyone, not all of them good. But by living with the consequences of that judgement we build our repertoire of experiences that influence our judgement when making our next decision.

     
     
     
    • madakadze tinashe
    • Rev Specialist-Taxation, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority

    The question of whether judgement triumphs experience is very difficult. Instead of working in isolation the two work together but judgement is far more important than experience. One can be successfull without any experience if they have good judgement. No one can be successful even with plenty of experience if they have bad judgement. It is even possible for someone to use other people`s experiences but one can not borrow judgement.

    While a person can draw judgements from experience there is no positive correlation between the two. An inexperienced leader who has better judgement can make better decisions on a new challenge than a leader with plenty of experience on old challenges. Even in dealing with similar challenges it is more prudent to depend more on judgement than experience.

    Stakeholder's perceptions,tastes and trends are changing everyday and for one to try to draw upon experience alone does not count.

    Experience is good because it helps one to be stable and resolute in face of great challenges and then judgement takes over. Take for example the USA presidential race,one can use experience to pull crowds but what to say depends on their assessment of the situation and the future. When vying for a political position one may not know whether voters would go for his or her personality, their party or just the party policy. This therefore calls for more judgement when delivering a speech and answering questions. Even in the current races for Democratic and Republican presidential candidacy one should make a judgement on whether party supporters are interested in their backgroung,political history,fundraising ability or personality.

    Moreso, judgement can be built on experience instead of them parrarelling each other.

    Experience can not be used to predict the future just like an old map can not be used to navigate a new territory.

     
     
     
    • Adrienne Watson
    • Management Accountant, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

    Some thoughts:

    In my opinion, good judgement requires a certain level of cognitive ability in order to assimilate information in the context of the given situation.

    Anyone can have "experience", but it could be really bad experience. How would a prospective employer know this? We all make mistakes. What makes the good leaders stand out, is that they don't make the same mistake twice.

     
     
     
    • Edward Hare
    • Retired Director, Strategy and Planning, Fortune 300 Mnfr'r

    Does ANY subject other than "leadership" and it's foundations elicit the wonderful range of opinions we see here? In itself, that should tell us all something. There's alot here to think about and some clear themes. I'm a simple guy so I view judgement as the way anyone processes the information around a decision or action. Experience can temper/alter judgement providing it's relevant. The trick is realizing (i.e. judging!!) whether previous experience is germane to the present. Often, it isn't....exactly.

    Give me good judgement any day. But as others have noted, it isn't that black and white. Values come into play too. Divining another's "motives" is awfully hard to do......but they have an enormous bearing on judgement. And if they're less-than-honorable, who's honest enough to say so? How can we be sure motives aren't clouding judgement?

    Tichy and Bennis have lots of observational experience. And their "judgement" may be that this is a subject worthy of some serious discussion. But.....is their "motive" to sell books based on being viewed as "thought leaders"?
    In my opinion, "motives" trump both judgement and experience.

     
     
     
    • biswashree dey
    • student

    Judgement is a test of character,which i think has very little to do with experience. Experience can tell one what can be a POSSIBLE outcome but one should do judgement on the basis of what is right for the company, shareholders and the employees and at the end himself. I believe judgement can be taught through moral teachings because these values help us keep our head clear in the toughest of situation and rise to the challenge. This is the part business ethics has to play. and a company culture based on values, gets the better end of the bargain in the long run.

     
     
     
    • Sam Friend
    • Student, Amherst College

    Judgment is the ability to know and decide upon the best decision or the right decision given the options at hand. Experience factors into this as such--every answer came to or every contradiction learned from in life adds to our ability to be able to discern what is right and what is wrong. Thus the extent of a persons judgment is primarily a function the way that one reacts to and learns from one's experiences.

    Experience alone isn't enough, it mush be coupled by a search for honesty and a willingness to adjust that makes good judgment possible.

    Go Obama.

     
     
     
    • Matthew Laos

    Leadership is where Wisdom meets Reality meets Judgement meets Actions meets Results meets Accountability.

    Clearly, Wisdom over Experience anyday

     
     
     
    • E.C.

    Simply put, judgement is the totality of one's birth instincts as affected by experience and education to the moment of judgement in a particular matter. One's judgement changes in varying degrees throughout one's life. I guess verifying the ancient, "Vun grows too soon oldt, und too late schmart."

     
     
     
    • Chris Lund
    • Human Resources Manager, Wattyl New Zealand

    Judgement over experience when it is seasoned with wisdom.

     
     
     
    • Anonymous

    An interesting point of view is shared here. First, what traits are needed when selecting a candidate for movement through the organization. Second, are these traits inherent or can they be learned. Finally, can the person be molded to become a more effective leader.

    The short answer to each of these points of view is yes, yes and yes. But let us develop the points.

    First, does our laundry list of characteristics need to be revamped when candidates first joining the entity from one of leadership toward one of character. This is a very tough dilemma because it involves revamping the current thought of the transitional leader. I believe that strong character should be elevated in the initial interview process. The reasoning is that character is a gift that helps the organization to have a positive tone at the top. When one emphasizes character throughout the ranks, the character becomes part of the DNA of the entity. The tone at the top involves ethical actions and proper coinsideration of the views of all shareholders and win-wins are more prominent. In recent news we refer to the greening effect of the economy. The greening effect should not be toward higher profit, because that may not come; however the emphasis should be on how we can improve the lives of all for this and future generations. When this is elevated, we have a better chance of clean water, clean air and so many other beneifts.

    Second, a stronger character can be developed but it is often shed when character is promoted simply for status quo reasons. We do not adopt character as a reactive view tilted toward what benefits can be derived; but choose character to emphasize positives in our relations one to another. When character is emphasized we can rise to the calling of Dr. King's dream where the relationship is not the means toward negotiation but character is given paramount importance and humans are valued for their human potential rather than secondary characteristics such as color or nationality.

    Third, through education a person can gather the experience to sharpen the deisred traits of emphasizing and valuing others. But it is important to know that the triat of character development gathered throughout one's tenure is highly important in shaping and developing the inward qualities of man. This is why efforts from parents, the community and education are paramount in developing strong character and help to develop a high moral fiber that automatically develops an interest in those we interact with. It can be developed and is often developed when experience has shed a new light that helps us to know whom we are throughout our interactions.

     
     
     
    • Joan Eisenstodt
    • Consultant

    In the "I've not read the book either" category, I found the discussion rich and agree with those in the 'judgment trumps experience' group. In my industry (hospitality), many have the same experiences over and over again, never learning; those who make judgments are of the "Blink" school (intuitives) and contribute more to the outcomes.

    Concurring with those who stated that one's values are the underpinning of the judgments, one must also conclude that if we judge those judgements as sound, no doubt our values match their's.

    And to Sam Friend .. I concur.

     
     
     
    • Jason Chan
    • Associate Director of Strategy

    I've seen the folly of both approaches. Those that understand this know which situations in which to apply each approach. Sometimes, lack of experience can be overcome by smart decision-making using sound assumptions. Othertimes, experience can save a lot of time in endless decision cycles. Smart managers are able to identify situations and use the appropriate mental framework to get the job done.

     
     
     
    • Appolo Goma
    • Inventory Manager, Schlumberger

    It is definitely true that experience would affect to a large extent the type of judgements we make whether positive or negative but our values always influences our judgements.

    For example two people describing a cup either half full or half empty which shows different individuals looking at the same thing from different perspective, one an optimist and the other a pessimist.

    To be able to make judgements, knowledge and a good analytical mind is critical and experience helps your knowledge but whether your knowledge is applied in making sound judgements is a function of your values.

     
     
     
    • Margie
    • Lecturer, BK School of Busines Management

    It is interesting also to note that sometimes our experience gets trumped by others' judgment in the process of decisionmaking - the conformity pressure. The decision making in the dynamic real-life conditions is subject to all possibilities.

    In fact, Nyaya, the Indian school of thought on effective decision making also expands the range of influence to include analogy and the testimony of others apart from inference and perception, beyond experience.

    In fact, the experience itself is recognised as a conjoint of doubt, error and emotions apart from cognitive and rational aspects of either experience.

    Seen thus, one would tend to believe that judgment may precede and influence experience, may be inherent in it, or may follow from the experience. Not only own and others' judgment and experience, but others' experience as well.

     
     
     
    • Asiya Shervani
    • Talent Development & Succession Planning, Alcatel-Lucent South Asia

    Obviously BOTH experience and judgment are important, however when one needs to make a choice between the two, it makes sense to go for Judgment. Openmindedness, practicality, strong character,ability to work in changing circumstances or with new rules and being good learner would obviously be some qualities that a person with good judgment would have (otherwise I doubt if his/her judgments would be good!). The traces of these qualities can be detected even when people are at a fairly early stage of their career.These characteristics need to be honed and developed as they progress.

     
     
     
    • Michael Zonfrillo
    • Manager, IBM IT Delivery

    Excellent topic. If seems to be the chicken and egg issue all over ago. Judgement comes from studying the history of events, whether business, political, everyday life activity. It is sharpened when events impact the observer and the observer becomes part of the event. Unfortunately, not all experiences improve judgement skill.

    I define judgement as the ability to make the right choices given the circumstances at the time of the event. We often do not have all the information needed and that makes judgement and experience hard to separate. Consistent good decisions are made by the experienced and disciplined.

     
     
     
    • Kamal Gupta
    • Director, Delta Petro Additives

    Experience improves judgment, provided of course that one keeps learning continually from experience. I have seen a lot of people stop learning from experience and falling in the trap of prescribing the same medicine even if the disease is different.

    I would anyday value an experienced person - one who has turned the lathe or pounded the pavements at some time - more than a person without experience. Experience makes you more pragmatic, and it also teaches you how to handle people-related issues, which to my mind, is all the difference between a well executed plan and one that flounders.

     
     
     
    • Joe Violette
    • Retired Proj. Mgr., Bechtel Corp..

    Intuition can sometimes play an important role in good judgment. If it doesn't look or feel right, better take another look. Intuition develops from experience.

     
     
     
    • Roy Bhikharie
    • CEO, Papaya Media Counseling

    Experience is likely to improve judgment if the people concerned have sufficient self-knowledge and are able to genuinely empathize, thus are free from psychological inhibitons and blocks. Any leader, no matter what their other assets may be, that misses such crucial faculties is doomed to fail.

    Suriname, SA

     
     
     
    • Steven Brenner
    • Professor Emeritus, Portland State University

    Perhaps it would help to think about a choice between the following two types of subordinates: one with excellent experience but limited judgment and one with limited experience and excellent judgment. How would their contributions differ?

    The first would know which questions to ask and how to evaluated the risks of a situation, but would very likely make poor decisions as he/she would mishandle the information properly gathered. The second might now know exactly what are the key questions to ask, but would use whatever information that was gathered properly.

    Of the two subordinates, I'd likely be happier with the latter subordinate, especially in the long run as he/she proved able to use information effectively. The former would be a constant disappointment having "the answers" in hand and freqently making poor choices.

     
     
     
    • John Wilson
    • Group Commander, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service

    There seems to be a very strong general trend towards devaluing experience: good decision-making is now all about process and technique. The King has found yet another set of new clothes!

    Let's stop dealing with these issues on the basis of a kind of risk-averse, protect us from litigation, process-driven mentality and wake up to the facts;

    • Yes, experience is assimilated differently by different people - some good - some bad
    • Yes, experience is hard to assess, measure and incorporate into selection and promotion procedures

    But day-in, day-out, it consistency trumps inexperience.

    So stop looking for 'perfection in process' and get pragmatic. Experience is a crucial ingredient in developing good decision-making skills and you can't 'buy it in'. So get your hands dirty, make mistakes and ultimately give yourself the best possible foundation on which to make those tough calls.