Intuitive Power

Nancy Rosanoff "You can learn to tap the intuitive powers of people. As a source of valuable information, intuition is at least equal to analytic data."

What do software designers, credit managers, entrepreneurs, accountants, salespeople and medical personnel have in common? They use their intuition to make better decisions, solve problems, and prevent disasters. Intuition plays an invaluable role in their lives.

Intuition is the ability each of us has to know something directly without an analytic process. The kind of information that can be known intuitively ranges from getting a "feeling" about someone or something to knowing very specific and necessary data.

While all of us rely on our intuition, many believe that they are the only ones who make decisions that way. Indeed, intuition is the best-kept secret of business decision-making. It is used successfully by most executives and managers, and yet it is suspect to talk openly about how one "feels" about a situation, or one's "gut reaction." I once learned that six of the seven people involved in a decision to release a new product had an "uncomfortable feeling" about it and yet said nothing because there were no analytic figures to back up the feeling. The product failed miserably, costing the company several hundred million dollars.

This is not an isolated incident-it happens regularly. What if one person had had the courage to say something like: "I don't know where this comes from, but I have a very uncomfortable feeling about releasing this product now. How do the rest of you feel about it?"

Intuition is how non-analytic data is accessed and incorporated into the decision-making process. Analytic data is based on the past and gives an overview of similar circumstances. Intuition enhances analytic thinking and focuses on the present situation, providing insights as to timing, specific strategy and innovation.

As you ask yourself, "How do I really feel about this job?" you may find that a job that looks great on paper may feel "uncomfortable" or that jobs that don't look profitable on paper feel "good."

Intuition is a simple, yet powerful tool. Because it works in ways that are mysterious to our analytic minds, it is often ignored or discounted. Organizations have a difficult time openly allowing intuition into the decision-making process. When companies do incorporate the intuitive process, the results are staggering. DuPont reduced its new product development time from three years to three months using intuitive techniques.

How to Develop Intuition

You can begin today to tap your own intuitive power and the intuitive wisdom of those who work with and for you. Here are four ways to get started:

1. Ask. Before making any decision, stop and ask yourself how you really feel about what you are about to do. Also, when working with a group, ask everyone how they really feel. It helps to disclose your own intuitive impressions to encourage others to talk about theirs.

2. Be attentive. Intuitive insight is often the very first impression that occurs when faced with a new situation. Catching that first impression takes practice. One way to restimulate a first impression is to ask yourself: "If this had a smell, what would it be? How would it taste? If I had to make a decision right this moment, what would it be?"

3. Keep track. Begin an intuition journal, jotting down your intuitive impressions and tracking your results. Once you experience how accurate your intuitions are, you will pay more attention - and so will others.

4. Use power moments. Begin team meetings by asking everyone to collect their thoughts about the meetings' agenda and write down a few personal thoughts or feelings as they occur. Then ask everyone to mention something they wrote on their list. This simple moment adds focus, depth, participation, and wisdom without taking much time. Try it before going into a meeting and watch how much more involved and prepared you are.

Intuition is not a substitute for analytic thinking. It is an additional source of information. We have an intuitive ability that provides guidance on the most successful way to proceed.

Three Attributes

Three attributes of intuition deeply conflict with the current corporate environment. Companies focused for the future are already in the process of developing new systems more open to the intuitive process.

1. Non-hierarchical: Intuitive skill is not based on formal education or years of experience. It has to do with insight and awareness. Anyone in the organization may have an intuition about where the company needs to go and how to handle a specific situation. Strategically gathering intuitive insights can greatly increase the chances for business success.

2. Non-analytic: Intuitively we can know what to do way before we know why we are doing it. Encourage employees to follow up on hunches and gut feelings and to communicate "non-analytic" information.

3. Unpredictable: Intuition is unpredictable in a couple of ways. The information and guidance received intuitively may be outside the boundaries the company has set. Intuitive information can be developed and incorporated into the decision making process, but it will never conform to rules and regulations. Learning to wait for the right time to act, allowing key factors to emerge and changing course in midstream, are all intuitive activities which by their nature cannot be planned.

We have all experienced the need for an idea or project to "cook on the back burner" of our minds before it is ready to come together. Strategic planning is becoming less focused on the details of a three-year plan and more focused on building collective vision and mission. This allows intuition to play a more important role in both planning and implementing.

© Nancy Rosanoff & Associates, Inc., 1999-2002. All rights reserved.

Category: Communicating
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