Intuition is basically the human brain’s way of arriving at decisions and conclusions via shortcut. Do you remember how your dad always had a shortcut to get somewhere (which may have seemed longer to you, but always worked out to be more efficient at the end of the day?) and you didn’t always understand why or how he came to that shortcut? Well, our intuition works in much the same fashion. When her child is sick, a mom often says her “mother’s intuition” told her that something was wrong. When a young woman goes to meet a man at the bar for their first date and upon meeting him escapes to the bathroom never to be seen again, she later tells her friends that her “gut just told her something was off about him” and she ran the other direction as fast as she could. I’m sure we can all relate to one situation or another when our intuition made the decision for us. But how does this work in business? Does it work at all when it comes to business decisions or is intuition worthless in the workplace?
Especially in today’s digital age, there is so much information coming at us every single day, that without intuition and decision-making shortcuts, we wouldn’t survive an hour, let alone 24 of them! However, when it comes to business, there are certain conditions which allow for intuition to be effective. So when these factors are involved, feel free to use your intuitive shortcuts to arrive at the best, most efficient conclusion, Otherwise, beware when thinking someone else doesn’t know as well as you do – and trust your instincts only so far as they’ll prove their worth to you.
1. EXPERTISE – If you are an expert seamstress, then trust your instincts to make the right decision on which type of thread is going to serve its purpose for that new project you’re working on. If you’re a car salesman by trade who
just started his first day on the job as a wielder, I’d talk to your supervisor before making that call!
2. UNSTRUCTURED PROBLEMS – Outside of your personal area of expertise, you should utilize your intuition only when it comes to making decisions about aesthetics, or subjective matters or conflict resolution – where there is not one clear-cut and unwavering answer. For instance, a human resources manager would need to use intuition when deciding on a solution for a conflict between two employees during which no witnesses or objective views could be used as evidence. On the flip side, you should not use your intuition when making a medical diagnosis where computer algorithms and symptoms in past cases point in one clear direction. Instead, trust the science and technology at your fingertips to reach the most likely conclusion.
3. TIME – How much time do you have to come to this decision? Seconds, hours, minutes, weeks? This factors in to the decision-making process as well. If you only have a small amount of time available, then intuition can be helpful
because in reality, you do not have the time for a detailed analysis of the situation. Combining facts and intuition is always going to provide the most accurate and comprehensive solution, but there are times when you will need to lean more on one than the other. As much as we would like to rely on our intuition in all situations, there are times when lack of time is not reason enough to rely SOLELY on your intuition so make sure that you are weighing out your options before jumping to a rash conclusion.
In the words of millionaire entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” Without intuition, many of us would not follow our dreams. So follow those dreams, and listen to your instincts. Just don’t chase after dreams blindly.