People often say they feel the answer, or it’s a gut reaction. Sometimes people couple intuition with an assumption or an educated guess.
In contrast, strategic thinking is based on a rational thought process, which in turn is based on the essence of rational thought: facts. Of course you should apply intuition and/or educated assumptions in strategic thinking, but as you do, consider these points.
It’s often difficult to convince an analytical person based solely using intuition.
It can be hard to persuade or influence a person of a specific action if you can’t precisely define how and why you came to that decision. This is particularly true when the idea you’re proposing is risky, complex or will be implemented in volatile times.
You can’t repeat intuition from one assignment to another.
Because it’s based on a methodology, you can’t teach it to colleagues or staff. As I said above, you can feel it, but you can’t force it to appear. And, if you can’t repeat it or teach it, it makes it difficult to improve your or others’ performance.
That said, intuition has tremendous value.
Senior managers use it frequently because they base it on their experience, career or expertise. Sometimes, it’s a better barometer than facts to determine the validity of an idea. But even in these situations, use it as a guide or another element to consider in the overall strategic thought process.
In the end, you should absolutely use your intuition. Just don’t rely exclusively upon it. If your instinct is strongly telling you a certain path or option is appropriate, you and your team should try to figure out why.
As you’ve probably read elsewhere by now, there are a lot of debate about intuition. I’ll leave the decision to you, but I thought I’d end with two quotes which show this discussion has been going on for many years.
From Charles Darwin: “The very essence of instinct is that it’s followed independently of reason.”
From Albert Schweitzer: “As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious.”
You can read a later post about how to strengthen your intuition in ten steps.
What are some of your own examples of intuition in business? Please add your comments below.