The Pichette Scale: Assessing Work/Life Balance

“After nearly seven years as CFO, I will be retiring from Google to spend more time with my family”.

This was how Patrick Pichette, one of America’s highest ranking executives, publicly announced his departure from Google a few weeks ago. In his full message on his Google+ page, he candidly spoke about the tough decision to leave a great job. One of the tipping points occurred during a trip to Africa with his wife. They were having such a great time that she asked him why they didn’t just extend their vacation. His reply was the one most of us would use – there just isn’t enough time…we have commitments…people are counting on me. She challenged him deeply when she asked, “So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time?” You can read the full letter here.

Pichette notes, “In the end, life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of tradeoffs, especially between business/professional endeavors and family/community”. His decision means that he felt that his balance needed to shift. Furthermore, he did something about the gap and made the difficult decision to resign.

The purpose of today’s blog is simple. I am asking you to consider three questions that only you can answer. Review the graphic below (I call it the ‘Pichette Scale‘) and answer the following:

  1. Place a dot on this line based on your life to date. Where do you sit on this spectrum? If you are brave, show your spouse or close friends to see if they agree.
  2. Where do you want your dot to sit when you turn ___ years of age (pick a number)? Today?
  3. What do you need to do about it?

Pichette Scale

I reside in a city full of retirees and snowbirds. It is not unusual to watch 70-somethings struggle to climb out of shiny new Corvette’s and Porsche’s. I cannot help but wonder if they moved the dot a bit late. Pichette made the bold move to move his dot at a time where many would say he is ‘in his prime’.

I cannot help but wonder if Patrick ever wishes he had moved the dot earlier! If you ever bump into him, why don’t you ask him for me!


Head ShotJeff Suderman is a futurist, professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational Future-Readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman