Does intuition play a part in a decision-making process?
Making decisions is generally hard due to the inherent uncertainty and the complexity of the problem and the pressure of time. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of our intuition to make sound decisions.
Intuition is when we instinctively know that something is right or wrong. In the words of Gary Klein, it “is when we use our experience and the patterns we’ve learned to respond to a situation without any deliberated analysis”. For it to be worth it in a decision-making process, the insights provided by our experiences should be relevant to the problem. Therefore, if there’s no time or the complexity is huge, intuition is an asset. If we enhance it, our decisions will be better. And yet, it doesn’t work well alone.
Less clarity, poorer analysis
Making decisions under pressure in a complex environment, with no clear information, is a challenge. At times, we don’t even know what to start considering for making up our minds. As a result of this lack of clarity, our analysis won’t be good enough.
It is our intuition what can help, if we’re experienced enough in the field. It can direct the process to correctly address the issue, understand what is more important, and define the conditions under which we can perform the analysis.
This is especially useful when we face an ever-changing environment, or we have no time to consider every option.
First, we need to understand how intuition works. A specific situation generates some cues that help us recognize a pattern. It’s this pattern which can trigger some response or action. In the end, that said response affects the former situation, changing it.
After some iterations, and if we pay attention, we can build our intuition about what would happen if a particular pattern exists.
To train it, we need to understand the nature of the decision to be made in a particular context. From the book Power of intuition: “the key to using intuition effectively is meaningful experience. That allows us to recognize patterns and build mental models”. So, we need to practice important decisions, to accumulate real-life experiences and improve our mental models.
The challenge with intuition is to know when to use it. Applied to the workplace, it allows us to manage uncertainty and spot problems in advance, besides of being more flexible when it comes to adapt our plans.
A well-trained intuition is a way to lower the background noise and simplify complexity in a decision-making process.
Image by Edz Norton at Unsplash