formation gaps can be filled and uncertainty maybe removed by further analyses.
Some studiessuggest that rational decision-making does havesituational superiority under particular sets of cir-cumstances.
Other research has revealed a nega-tive relationship between uncertainty (the extent towhich the problem is similar to others that havebeen dealt with in the past) and rationality (theextent to which information search, analysis, anduse of quantitative techniques contribute to a de-cision choice).
The rational method can undeni-ably lead to effective decisions.
However, whenoutcomes are difficult to predict through rationalmeans, executives need to acknowledge the uncer-tainties, be more tolerant of ambiguities, be able torespond to complexities in pragmatic, intelligentand fast ways in the face of the unknown, andrecognize the potential that their intuitive judg-ments may offer. Moreover, where decisions dohave to be taken speedily and with cognitive econ-omy in the face of an overwhelming mass of infor-mation or tight deadlines, executives may have nochoice but to rely upon intelligent intuitive judg-ments rather than on non-existent or not-yet-in-vented routines.When deliberative rational thought is notachievable or desirable (for example, where un-ambiguous or sufficient ‘hard’ data is not immedi-ately at hand, might never be available at all, orwhere creative solutions to problems are needed),one way of managing and coping with uncertaintyand complexity and of ‘thinking outside of the box’is by relying upon intuition. As an outcome of anunconscious process in which there is little or noapparent intrusion of deliberative rationalthought, intuitions can be considered ‘soft data’that may be treated as testable hypotheses (“Dothe facts and figures back up my intuition?”) orused to check out a rationally derived choice (“Howdo I feel about the decision I’ve made?”). In thisrespect, a carefully crafted intuitive knowledge,understanding, and skill may endow executiveswith the capacity for insight, speed of response,and the capability to solve problems and makedecisions in more satisfying and creative ways.There are those who offer the view that
, albeit of a rather special kind
but with theimportant caveat that unconscious mental pro-cesses and affect should not be treated as direc-tives, but neither should they be ignored or dis-missed as irrelevant. There are also those whoargue that it is not possible to make effective de-cisions
using intuition. We prefer to arguethat executives need to be able to recognize andunderstand intuition, accept it, establish ways inwhich they can be comfortable with it, and lever-age its potential for success and well-being bothfor themselves and for those whom they lead. Thisknowledge, understanding, and skill constitute anintuitive awareness, and in our view the questionof how this may be developed is important both forexecutives themselves and for those educators andconsultants whose aim it is to improve executives’decision-making skills. This is especially impor-tant given that management education and train-ing in general appear to be lacking in this regard(there are of course notable exceptions). Research-based knowledge allied to our own experiences intraining and developing executives’ intuitive skillsleads us to the view that executives can begin tounderstand and craft their individual intuitive de-cision-making capabilities by following somefairly straightforward guidelines.
Intuition and Management
The subject of intuition has figured in philosophy,psychology, and the social and natural sciencesover the ages from Aristotle and Ovid, throughSpinoza, Michael Faraday, and William James, tothe 20
century where Henri Bergson, Carl Jung,Bertrand Russell, Jonas Salk, and Albert Einsteinall attested to the value of intuition as a uniqueway of knowing. Intuition in management was dis-cussed explicitly as far back as Chester Barnard’s
Functions of the Executive
in 1938, but over theintervening decades, despite occasional bouts ofrhetoric, it has (with a few exceptions) tended to bedownplayed or overlooked. However, in recentyears there has been something of a resurgence ofinterest in intuition among academics and practi-tioners, perhaps because of a dissatisfaction withrationality and its limits,
perhaps because it res-onates with the more holistic and spiritual
of the late 20
and early 21
centuries, andalso because some psychologists are now arguingthat much, if not most, of cognition occurs automat-ically outside of consciousness.
Intuition is difficult to describe but easy to rec-ognize. Many of us will be intimately familiar withour own intuitions and will probably be able toidentify, and may even envy or admire, those indi-viduals who confidently display a ‘gut feel’ forcomplex situations and who appear to have an‘instinct’ for grasping key issues quickly. They canoften instantaneously recognize in a highly con-vincing manner whether an investment is likely toturn sour, whether a potential hire is good or bad,whether a new product will make it or not; butfrustratingly they may find it difficult to articulatethe reasons behind these decisions which may just‘feel right.’
Academy of Management Executive