Inside intuition
1Intuition is a phenomenon that spans languages, cultures, continents and history.  Everyone has it, for it is impossible for us to function effectively without using ‘gut feeling’. But to what extent is intuition relevant in the world of business today? When senior managers in the US were asked in a survey how often they used intuition in making decisions 12 % said always, 47% said often, 30% said sometimes and the remaining small minority (one in ten) said they seldom or rarely used it.3


“The effective manager does not have the luxury of being able to choose between ‘analytical’ and ‘intuitive’ approaches to problems.”2


Indeed one could argue that in modern organizations fast, decisive, intuitive decision-making is not only necessary, but it is often seen as an absolute requirement of effective entrepreneurial and transformational leadership.4
An entrepreneur needs to have at his or her disposal the creative intuition with which to develop new ideas, the intuitive alertness and contextual awareness with which to recognize opportunities, select feasible ideas and reject non-feasible ones, and the foresight and intuitive vision to be able to see beyond the present. According to Sadler-Smith, intuition is more likely to be used in people-oriented decisions, quick decisions, unexpected decisions, uncertain or novel situations, and situations where there is a lack of explicit clues.5

Thomas Edison is one of the most successful inventors of all time, with over one thousand patents to his name. His approach to creativity was deliberate, managed and strategic.  Edison’s lessons in enlightened creativity include:

Set idea quotas: for himself Edison set the quota at one minor invention every ten days and a major one every six months. He also set idea targets for his workers.

Challenge assumptions: the story goes that before hiring research assistants Edison would take the applicant out to lunch and if they seasoned their soup before tasting it they didn’t get the job because, in Edison’s view they had an assumption that the soup needed seasoning which they did not bother to challenge (i.e. by tasting the soup first).

Learn from mistakes: instead of regarding failures as failures, to discover something that did work, Edison regarded failures more positively – as discoveries of things that didn’t work.

Capture ideas: Edison was an obsessive note-taker and recorder, so much so that in the Edison Archive there are around 3500 note books which he actively used as his paper-based memory.6

1. Sadler-Smith, Eugene, Inside Intuition, Routledge, 2008, 352 p2
2. Herbert Simon, scholar, researcher and Noble prize-winner, in Sadler-
Smith, Eugene, Inside Intuition, p. 270
3. Burke, L. A. and Miller, M. K., Taking the mystery out of intuitive decision-
making, Academy of Management Executive, 1999, 13(4): 91 -99 in: Sadler- Smith, Eugene, Inside Intuition, p. 3
4. Sadler-Smith, Eugene, Inside Intuition, p. 13
5. Sadler-Smith, Eugene, Inside Intuition, p. 269
6. Sadler-Smith, Eugene, Inside Intuition, p. 76-77


 
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