Trust your gut



We are all faced with the need to make decisions, or are called upon to do so, every single day of our lives. If we just look at our private lives it seems that “choice” is seen as a very good thing and so we are constantly invited to choose which electricity supplier we would like to sign up with, which mobile phone network to use, which internet provider would suit us best, which healthcare, pension fund, insurance, mortgage, maintenance contract, lease arrangement….etc etc the list goes on and on.

On top of that we have the decisions we face at work, and generally, as we progress through the ranks of an organization, the decisions come thicker and faster and the consequences of getting them wrong become greater and greater and affect more and more people.

How then can we make sure we make the right decision each time? All too often, we turn to the huge amount of data that is readily available to us in the belief that analysis of all those facts and figures will provide the insight we can then use to make the right choice.

Unfortunately, these days these is so much data, literally at our finger tips, that we risk spending all of our time scrutinizing numbers and relying solely on analytics. There is also the danger that we don’t know when to stop analysing and get on and actually make that decision. The end result is that we often ignore something that is instinctive in all of us, and that something is intuition, or gut feeling.

Throughout history highly successful and famous leaders have emerged because they were prepared to make big decisions (which often turned out to be the right decisions) but in the absence of large amounts of readily available information. They trusted their gut. And interestingly, a recent survey by a large recruiter has shown that 45% of corporate executives now rely more on gut instinct than facts and figures. In another survey 83% of business leaders said their decision making had become better as a result of trusting their instincts rather than using analytics. It is also a lot quicker.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2005 book “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” he suggests that sometimes we have too much information that can interfere with the process of making a sound and accurate judgement. He also suggests that in this era of information overload, better decisions are often made through snap judgment rather than after an analysis of volumes of data, the so-called “analysis paralysis”. And that was back in 2005!

Do you make better decisions when you rely on the numbers, your gut reaction, or a mixture of the two?

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