THE PANDEMIC has required many people to make difficult judgments. Politicians have had to decide which restrictions to impose on citizens’ behaviour and individuals were forced to assess how much personal risk to take. Managers, faced with tough calls like which parts of their operations to close, have not been spared.
Good judgment is a quality everyone would like to have. But it is remarkably difficult to define precisely, and many people are not sure whether they personally possess it. Sir Andrew Likierman of the London Business School has spent a long time talking to leaders in a wide range of fields, from business and the army to the law and medicine, in an effort to create a framework for understanding judgment.
First he had to define the word. He suggests that judgment is “the combination of personal qualities with relevant knowledge and experience to form opinions and take decisions”. And he argues that, thus defined, judgment involves a process—taking in information, deciding whom and what to trust, summarising one’s personal knowledge, checking any prior beliefs or feelings, summarising the available choices and then making the decision. At each stage, decision-makers must ask themselves questions, such as whether they have the relevant experience and expertise to make their choice, and whether the option...
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