One of the big questions about decision making is the intuition versus science balance: how much should you go with your gut and how much should you depend on information that has been gathered systematically? My answer is that intuition should be used as often as possible. I’m well aware that there are many people who feel that “your gut” is the same thing as “your emotions” and therefore should not to be trusted. But it seems to me that if you’re working in a realm you’ve very familiar with, your gut is based on the sum total of your past experiences. If you’re driving down a road in a city where you’ve never been before, you haven’t looked at the map in the glove compartment, and there are no landmarks with which to orient yourself, then your intuition about which direction to head in is probably worth very little.

By contrast, if you’re on your own turf, your intuition is worth a lot. It may not be something you can articulate as a rational process, but it’s definitely a tool you should use. So, if you’ve got a lot of experience, trust your gut more. And if you’ve got a lot of time—and some resources—try to adopt a systematic approach to the decision at hand.

The decision deadline is a factor in the intuition versus science approach. With lots of time, the balance shifts towards a more systematic, thorough study approach. With less time, I would rather rely on intuition rather than lose an opportunity. Of course, if the opportunity fails and can put your company out of business, I would want more than intuition at play. . .but don’t downplay the value of intuition, particularly in an experienced person.


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