Seymour Schulich delivers the goods on decision-making

Posted March 16, 2010 in Career Management, Latest News & Insights

Self-made billionnaire and mega-philanthropist Seymour Schulich has put his best life and business leadership lessons into the world’s quickest read book titled “Get Smarter“.  I’m not sure if reading it will make you smarter, but it will definitely give you a few leadership lessons that you can put to use immediately. My favourite was his take on decision-making.

I have long contested that many people in business (particularly in management consulting) have a great ability to overcomplicate simple ideas.  In my opinion, one of the marks of great leadership is the ability to take a complex concept and make it simple.

Schulich does this in his lead off chapter on decision-making where he outlines a simple process that you can apply to any issue.  He professes to have used this throughout his career on decisions from which grad school to attend to when it came time to sell parts of his business.

Basically, the Schulich system is a pro’s and cons list with a twist.  The twist being that you rank each of the “pro’s” and each of the “con’s” on a scale of zero to ten.  The more important the point on your list is to you, the higher you score it.

If the total score on your positive outweighs the negatives by at least 2 to 1, then you should proceed.  If however, the positives don’t outweigh the negatives by that ratio, then Schulich cautions you to think twice (or not do it at all).

Simple!  I did it recently when I was head hunted for a big six figure corporate job.  The score for remaining on the entrepreneurial track bested my con’s list by more than 4 to 1.  (I can’t say it was a tough decision going in, but it was interesting to see what I intuitively knew boiled down to a black-and-white number).

Every day we face a myriad of decisions.  Schulich’s tool is a great one that you can apply quickly.  I suppose the one caveat to this, or frankly any process like this, is that you’re in touch with your values and what’s important to you.  If not, you may not score things appropriately.

Give it a try the next time you’re struggling with a decision: should I fire that person or keep them? should I go for that promotion or build up 12 more months of track record in my current position? should I leave my secure job for the ambitious start-up?

Consider this one more deceptively simple tool for your business toolkit.

Happy leading!


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