CM 023: Donald Sull on Making Smarter Decisions

Blog Post - Don SullEvery day we have problems to solve and decisions to make. Too often, the steps we take to address them result in more complexity, rather than less. That is where simple rules come in.

Donald Sull, bestselling author of Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World offers a six-step framework for better decision-making that has been tested with individuals and with organizations. An expert in global strategy, Don is a senior lecturer at MIT and a former professor at Harvard University and the London Business School. Using vivid examples and powerful stories, Don helps us see the creative impact of developing and applying simple rules.

In this episode, we talk about:

  • ways simple rules support strategy and encourage innovation
  • the ways simple rules beat out one-size-fits-all rules
  • the six-part framework to make simple rules of your own
  • why we need to involve the users of the rules in the creation process
  • how feedback only makes rules better over time
  • how simple rules can support personal and organizational agency and ownership

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned


Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull and Kathleen Eisenhardt

Oakland As

Billy Beane

The Gates Foundation

Why the French Do Not Get Fat

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink

Collin Payne

Pierre Chandon


Craig Reynolds


Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

Zipcar and Robin Chase


Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Young Presidents Organization

Elmore Leonard

Tina Fey and 30 Rock

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Thank you to Emmy-award-winning Creative Director Vanida Vae for designing the Curious Minds logo!



1 Comment

  1. […] just hate complexity at a visceral level,” Sull said on the podcast Curious Minds. “All this needless proliferation of features … […]