The Importance of Business Intuition
The higher you go in the organization, the more important well developed intuitive abilities become. Intuition is essential in business decision making when rational analysis of data is not enough. This tends to occur when there is too much data or the data is contradictory. Facts are limited or they do not clearly indicate the direction to take. Problems are complex with a high level of uncertainty.
There are several plausible alternative solutions to choose from, with good arguments for each. Time is limited and there is pressure to be right. There is rapid change with new trends emerging. Little previous precedent has been established.
These are precisely the situations that characterize decision making at the higher levels in any organization. Intuitive awareness also provides fresh perspective and insight which can be invaluable in helping with human resource challenges, particularly succession planning, managing valued employees or team members who are underperforming or derailing, and handling restructuring or downsizing.
Intuition can also help you to anticipate emerging business trends. Since the Age of Reason, our culture has valued rational thought as the most important factor for success. Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking work with Emotional Intelligence in the 1990’s showed that emotional and social resources are at least as important in creating success and happiness in business and in life. Now intuition is at the frontier of human development.
What Is Intuition?
Intuition is knowledge gained without rational thought. It’s a way of knowing that differs from your normal thought process. You can think of it as a gut feeling.
While thinking can be laborious, intuition comes instantaneously. It often arises spontaneously. While logical thought focuses on the relationship among the parts, intuition looks at the whole picture. Thinking draws on the left side of the brain, while intuition utilizes the right brain, the side associated with creativity.
The goal here is not to replace thinking with intuition. Rather, developing your intuitive abilities will give you a greater range of resources to draw on when faced with challenges in business and in life.
You can imagine it like a game of tennis. Thinking is like having a powerful forehand. You can play good tennis, but you’ll be more successful if you can draw on your backhand — Emotional Intelligence — to cover the whole court. You can only play winning tennis, though, if you add a strong serve. Developing your intuitive abilities gives you that extra edge.
How to Boost Your Business Intuition
Everyone has intuitive abilities. You’ve probably had the experience of wrestling with a problem, struggling to come up with the solution. Then, when you least expected it — perhaps in the shower, or out on a run — the answer came to you with perfect clarity. When you went with your hunch, things went well. If you ignored it, chances are you lived to regret that decision. That’s intuition.
The problem is that you never quite know when an intuitive insight is going to arise. The good news is that you can develop your intuitive abilities and learn to access them whenever you need to.
Merely recognizing the existence of intuition and its potential value is an important first step. In this way you can be more open to your intuitive knowing when it arises.
Keeping an intuition journal can help you become more aware of your intuitive insights and the way you use intuition in your life. Document any intuitive awareness that comes to you. Note whether you go along with your hunch or not. Then notice how things turn out. Over time you will come to trust your intuitions as you come to recognize the positive impact they have on your business and your life. This will help you to tune in to intuition when it arises.
You can also learn ways to consciously access your intuitive knowing. In the second part of this series on business intuition I teach you how.