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Simple Rules for Successful Decisions

How companies can make life easier for themselves in turbulent times and act more effectively in the long term

Young woman thinking

By Christine Hudetz

Discover patterns of success and use them effectively

Uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity and volatility are the buzzwords of today's business environment. Making the right decisions is made all the more important by this turbulent environment. Johanna Gruenauer, Wolfgang H. Güttel and Alfred Wurmbrand show how the Simple Rules method can be used to identify patterns of success in companies and use them effectively for competitive success.

How rules of thumb become competitive advantages

In order to make decisions under complex conditions, we often take intuitive shortcuts via rules of thumb or so-called heuristics. Success patterns should be identified from these individual decisions of individuals and used to the benefit of the entire company. Conversely, concrete decision-making aids for individual departments and individuals should be derived from strategic decisions at the corporate level. In this way, competitiveness is ensured, even in turbulent times, by identifying and formulating Simple Rules.

Simple Rules link corporate strategy with individual decisions

Simple Rules must be concrete, tightly formulated, timely and meaningful. In contrast to abstract guidelines, endless lists and confusing checklists, Simple Rules offer comprehensible and success-proven decision-making aids that can be used at any time and adapted to the respective situation.

The Simple Rules method developed by Gruenauer, Güttel and Wurmbrand is based on the structure of rules discovered by Sull and Eisenhardt: While the strategic rules (priorities, delimitations, final strokes) define the playing field of the respective process, the procedural rules (how, when, who?) describe the most important aspects of the individual processes.

Tips for your business

  • Knowledge transfer: use individual success patterns for company-wide competitive advantage
  • Decision support: Simple Rules create a comprehensible link between the complex corporate strategy and individual decisions
  • Less is more: Define a maximum of 7 Simple Rules per process or area.
  • Regular checks: Regularly check and update the Simple Rules for their relevance to the competition.

Take your management know-how to the next level

In a technology-driven world, executives and organizations face unique challenges at the intersection of management, technology and leadership. The new MBA programs at the Continuing Education Center of the TU Wien are designed to address these challenges by providing participants with a basic understanding of technology, key business skills, and technological decision-making competencies.

Prof. Wolfgang H. Güttel is the academic director of the MBA Strategic Management & Technology. The MBA program equips you to plan ahead for difficult situations with your organization and thus successfully master even turbulent times.

More information about the new MBA programs at TU Wien, the currently announced scholarships and all upcoming events can be found here.

Literature on Simple Rules

Johanna Gruenauer, Wolfgang H. Güttel & Alfred Wurmbrand: Simple Rules: Regeln, Lernen und Kompetenzentwicklung. In: Wolfgang H. Güttel (Hrsg.) Erfolgreich in turbulenten Zeiten.  Impulse für Leadership, Change Management & Ambidexterity. 2. Auflage München, Augsburg 2019, S. 75-87.

Donald N. Sull & Kathleen M. Eisenhardt: Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World, London 2015.