Judgment Call Study Guide (page 2)

Updated on Sep 20, 2011


Imagine you decided that the most important criteria for making your decision was whether or not those in need would get free food from some other source if the food pantry closed. In step three, you will ask questions such as, "are there other food pantries that are accessible to our town?" "Do those pantries limit their visitors to only those who live in their communities?" "Could we provide other assistance to those in our town to help them purchase food, such as gift certificates to grocery stores?"


Before making a judgment, establish your criteria. Be specific about what would make an idea a good one. What makes the action the right thing to do?

What about Biases and Intuition?

Judgement calls are subjective, not simply a distillation of facts and explore the "what if" scenarios, the final decision is still your opinion. So to make judgement calls, people need to acknowledge and check their natural biases. For example, someone might have lost a large part of his or her savings due to a drop in the stock market and become leery of investing. Or, perhaps the person grew up in a family that was never in debt and stressed the evils of credit. Such experiences could cloud a person's ability to make an effective judgement call about buying stock.

Any preexisting biases or attitudes reduce the ability to evaluate information objectively. Be aware of them. You can't eliminate them, but you can make sure they don't get in the way of a good judgement call.

What about a intuition or instincts? As you go through the process of making a judgement call, you might get a feeling, a hunch, that one option simply feels right when compared to the others even when logic tells you otherwise. Also called a gut reaction, this feeling can lead to a great decision. It can also lead to a disaster. As with biases, acknowledge your intuition but take to it as one factor in many. It should not outweigh the facts and other input you gathered in steps 1 through 3.

Making the Call

You can prepare as thoroughly as humanly possible before making a judgment call, getting input and information from dozens of sources, and evaluating each option as carefully as possible. But it still comes down to your opinion. How do you make the leap to a decision? Here are a couple more ideas that can help.

Evaluate the Risks

Look at each option in terms of risk. How much risk are you willing to take, and are you willing to suffer the consequences if you make the wrong choice? For example, you are considering buying shares of a stock. The choice is to buy, or not to buy. The best-case scenario is that you buy and the price skyrockets. The worst-case scenario is you buy and the price plummets. Notice that the risk occurs only if you make the purchase. Therefore, in this case, you need to decide if you can tolerate the risk of having the worst-case scenario occur. If you can't, you should not buy. Ask yourself if you take the risk, how much money can you afford to lose?

Here is another scenario: You are a manager who must hire two new employees. When you advertise the openings, you get dozens of resumes. Two of them belong to current employees who wish to move up to higher paying jobs with more responsibility. You know them and are impressed with their job performance. The top two resumes from the rest of the batch are graduates from prestigious business schools. However, they have no relevant work experience. Who do you hire?

Evaluate the decision in terms of risk. The current employees are known to you. If you hire them, there is little risk that they will not be able to perform well on the job. Based on your own observations, they are both conscientious individuals who are more than capable of doing well in the new positions. The other candidates are a riskier choice. Although they have the education, they lack experience. Will you have to spend countless hours training them? Will they be able to handle the job requirements successfully? You can only guess at the answers. If you want to make a judgment call based on what will be the least risk, you will hire the current employees.

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