I’ve got a good feeling about this… going with your gut instinct

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
8 June 2014

9 June 2014 | Paul Snell

Paul SnellI have written previously about the significance of ‘gut instinct’ in decision making in the workplace, and more than four years ago we reported soft factors, such as intuition, were more likely to be used as the basis of decision making than data-driven analysis.

Not much appears to have changed in the intervening four years, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit for Applied Predictive Technologies. The study found 73 per cent of executives trust their instinct when making decisions, and if data contradicted their gut, nine out of 10 would reanalyse, collect more or ignore it completely.

One respondent told the survey if there is a contradiction between the two, it might mean something has gone wrong with the collection or delivery of the data, or it has been taken out of context.

It also makes me wonder whether a decision has already been made (even if it is only subconsciously), and executives are actually looking for data that will back it up.

The poll also found almost a fifth of decision makers are not held accountable for their choices – although, as the survey points out, this could be a transparency problem as many feel the information on who made the decision is limited or unclear.

When decisions turn out to be the wrong choices, many people will stick with them to save face – something that needs rethinking. “In the corporate world, U-turns are seen as a weakness, but sometimes they are the best course of action,” said Gerard Hodgkinson, professor of strategic management and behavioural science at Warwick Business School.

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