Intuition vs. Thoughtful Decision: Finding the Right Balance

business decisions, making effective decisions, business decision-making, intuition

In business even the biggest companies don’t always get it right. Things move quickly in the business world and we’re all operating in a very fluid, and volatile, environment. While it’s easy, in hindsight, to be critical of the blunders that even the most powerful organizations in the world fall prey to, it’s important to keep in mind how pressure often gets in the way of making a thoroughly thought-out decision.

Sometimes, of course, the pace of change prevents the level of research and analysis that some might feel most comfortable with. Business leaders need to have sound instincts for making snap decisions that could have enormous implications for the business, its shareholders, its employees and its customers.

Here are three ways to help find the right balance between intuition and thoughtful decision to boost the odds that you’re more often right, than wrong.

Avoid Raw Instinct

Instinct is very important in both personal and professional life, but, when possible, it should be tempered with solid research and due diligence to ensure that you’re not being led astray by too much emotion when making decisions. Similarly, try to give yourself time to reflect. Even when a decision point is imminent, it’s generally possible to find just 20–30 minutes to collect thoughts and calm emotions. If after this reflection you still feel strongly about your intended decision, that’s an important sign you’re on the right track.

Knowing Your Vision

From a marketing standpoint, instinct is often related to brand position or brand image. Business people need to have a very solid understanding of how they wish their brand to be perceived by their target audiences and keep this clearly in mind when making decisions. Those decisions might relate to making a new hire who will be customer-facing, making changes to product or service design, pricing, etc.

If you have a strong sense of your brand, you’ll also likely have a strong gut reaction to decisions you’re making. You’ll know whether they’re right or wrong. As Lewis Howes writes for Entrepreneur, “When you craft a meaningful and encompassing vision for your life, your business and your world, you can use it as a map for years to come. If you use it, your vision will show you what is in alignment in your life and what is not. Visualize the outcome of your actions.”

Hone Your Skills

Citing Lou Leone in an article for Fast Company, Liz Funk writes that instinctiveness is a skill that can be honed with practice and some focused self-reflection. “Lou Leone recommends listing all the times you trusted your gut and whether the outcome was favorable.” To avoid a selection bias, we’d recommend against looking back in time and focusing on future decisions, lest that one great instinct or that horrible mistake skews your self-analysis. The point is that consciously evaluating the quality of your instinct will help you know when to follow it in the future.

Instinct shouldn’t be followed blindly, and you can certainly work at improving your intuition, as well as your confidence, in where it leads you. Those who develop keen instincts have a huge advantage by being able to act decisively and nimbly in a fast-paced business world.

How are you doing at that?

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