In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell explores how we process our intuition and instinct. Suggesting how we make split-second decisions and judgments. Both good and bad ones. And the best decisions made with your animal instincts.
Gut feeling is an inbuilt reaction which allows us to accurately read a dangerous situation or a person who may wish us harm. The book offers an appreciation of judgments based on less information rather than more. On expert intuition or instinct rather than the less seasoned novice judgments. Gladwell suggests that intuitive or “snap” judgments are valuable. And that the more experienced you are on a subject, the more this will allow you to make accurate decisions.
We agree with Gladwell, that gut feeling can be an excellent tool for minor points, life and death experiences. (not too many of those at Octopus towers recently) To give a general direction of understanding of what’s going on, but gut feeling must be backed up by significant verifiable information. Gladwell introduces the concept of “thin-slicing”. That’s your unconscious mind’s ability to isolate patterns and meaning within the most fleeting “slices” of experience and impressions.
He gives an example of the ability of one psychologist to predict, with 95% accuracy, if a couple would still be together in fifteen years’ time. According to Gladwell, this and other examples, show how experts can take small samples and make fantastic, accurate predictions.
However, we need to take into account our environment when using gut feeling, as gut feeling can change depending on where you are and how threatened or content you feel. Within Intelligence, if you are up against a deadline, then validated gut feeling is more achievable if you are relaxed, with all the time in the world.
Not as good as we think
Our gut feeling is not as perfect as we might think. Even though, It can be a great tool to deploy when we are trying to analyse what’s going on with a competitor or a market. However, it is not the magic bullet, and we must be aware that our gut feel is exceptionally open to wishful thinking and bias, and this must be taken into account. The more market and life experience you have, the more this could prevent you using your gut reaction and picking up on those intangible warning signs if your industry changes or new competitors come along.
And yes, your industry can and almost certainly will change; it’s up to you to realise this. That industry experience and know-how should not let you lose sight of how potentially useful your gut feeling could be. We can take gut feeling into account, as one part of a whole repertoire of tools, but the future direction of your business in an ever-changing market needs considered detailed analysis. So, whilst we shouldn’t ignore our intuition, we should not make critical business decisions with it either.