Category Archives: decision making

Business & Golf

Especially for people in insurance sales and management roles, there is no doubt that playing golf offers many networking opportunities, especially with existing and potential clients. In fact, that is why some people play golf – It is their sole reason. However, I have always viewed golf as another form of problem-solving and many business people I know enjoy it for that reason in addition to the networking and friendship that inevitably results.

With regard to problem solving, many of those described are used to overcoming obstacles to make the best day-to-day business decisions.  Golf is just an extension of their work in a more open environment.

How am I going to hit the ball over that tree?   What club do i need?  Should I try to go over the lake or avoid it by going around it or playing short of it?  To make sure I don’t hit my ball into that huge bunker, should I play to the opposite side of the green even it will put me very far from the hole?
These are examples of questions that golfers ask themselves throughout a round of golf.  The golf shots they propose and attempt are aimed at solving the problems at-hand.

It is the same type of decision-making environment that business managers face everyday. However, the consequences of making a wrong decision in business is hardly ever more serious that a bad business decision on a golf course…unless, of course, you bet too much with your friends and lost!

From noted creative thinking coach, Michael Gelb:  “Life is a continuous exercise of problem solving.”

Decision Making the ‘Ben Franklin Way’

Most people know that Benjamin Franklin was a really interesting & creative man who contributed greatly to the development of many useful things in both society and industry.

In 1772, he introduced what was considered to be the first ‘decision balance sheet’.  Many of us use it today.  I call it my ‘pros & cons’ list.  It is a simple exercise that can serve us well in many aspects of life, not just in business decision making.

In its most simple form, take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, listing ‘Pros’ on one side of the line and “Cons’ on the other.  Apply this process when you are trying to decide the best option between two choices.

In a business example for an insurance agency principal:  “Should I join the ‘Smith Premium Aggregator Group’ or The ‘Jones Premium Aggregator Group’?

Do a separate sheet on both groups.  List the pros and cons of each, as Ben’s decision making tool indicates.  After the pros and cons of both are listed, weight each one in terms of level of importance to you.  (I use a 1-5 rating scale, with 1 being the least important to me.  However, you can also use 1-3 or whatever scale you choose to apply.)  Add them up and while it isn’t a perfect system, if you do it carefully enough, it should give you a pretty good idea of which insurance network group you should consider joining, based on the values of each of their respective programs’ characteristics, as they relate to your agency.

It will also help you identify issues that may not be clear to you and require that you ask additional questions of the insurance network group representatives, so that you are clear on everything.

Obviously this simple approach can be used to make decisions of all types, both personal and business related.

Thanks, Ben!