The use of intuition in your decision making process…is it safe?

In the absence of endless time and/or access to empirical data to support past behaviour and trending, when forced to perform routine activities (which include quick decision making), we are often left with no option but to rely on Intuition or…that elusive 6th sense.

Valerie Beim (Austrian Grandmaster) wrote a fascinating book on the subject entitled :”The Enigma of Chess Intuition.” That is where I first learned that Intuition, like the other weapons in every chess players arsenal (tactical and strategic vision, the ability to mentally resolve countless permutations and combinations, opening, middle and end game techniques), enjoys a unique place of it’s own.

I am acutely aware how polarized this thread has gotten with extreme positions taken up in defense for or against the idea that intuition should ever be considered as a safe, functional option to be considered in our routine decision making.

I have no other argument to offer than to say that this sort of skepticism should then be leveled against the behavioral science of psychology that (begin quote) “focuses on understanding behavior and the mind in both human and nonhuman animals through research called cognitive-behavioral research. According to Psychology Today,“The study of animal behavior is a cornerstone of experimental psychology, shedding light on complex human emotions.” Thus, in psychology animals are commonly used as models for the human mind and behavior, particularly for human conditions involving psychiatric disorders and neurological diseases. In his review of animal models in psychology, Dr. Kenneth Shapiro stated, “… psychologists have attempted to develop an animal model for virtually every known problem in the human condition that has even a remotely psychological cast.” (end Quote).

The Irony is palpable. We humans therefore are investing all our trust, faith and hard money, on studying how rats, mice, hamsters and monkeys et al behave, react, manifest/articulate emotions or the lack thereof, in our journey to better understand ‘Human Behaviour’ and how the human mind/body will react in a given environment….an eerily ‘Pavlovian’ pursuit indeed!


There must be a sensible balance in all actions or decisions that we take. As tested through the Strength Deployment Inventory (Instrument to assist in measuring aspects of the Relationship awareness theory, founded by Dr. Elias H. Porter).
Relationship Awareness Theory helps to effectively and accurately understanding the motivation behind behaviour. Relationship Awareness facilitates organizations and individuals to recognize the skills they need to build better/more effective personal/professional relationships. It helps them to develop and sustain relationships through understanding the underlying, motivations of themselves and others, under two environments or conditions:
a.  when things are going well and,
b.  during conflict.

The theory is based on the following four premises::
01.Behaviour is driven by motivation to achieve self-worth – Our behaviour is driven by our desire to do the “right” thing. Our beliefs regarding what is “right” may differ.
02.Motivation changes in conflict – Our motivation (what we need) changes when we experience conflict or stress.
03.Strengths, when overdone or misapplied, can be perceived as weaknesses – Weaknesses are no more than strengths that are perceived to be overdone or applied in the wrong context.
04.Personal filters influence perceptions of self and others – We each have filters (how we see the world) that influence how we judge others.

The theory facilitates in aiding people to recognize that they have the freedom to select a behaviour that accommodates their underlying values, while recognizing and being respectful of  values of others. It is a changing/powerful way analyzing interpersonal communication that facilitates in building effective communication and productive work relationships.
But what has this got to do with the current debate on When It’s Safe to Rely on Intuition (and When It’s Not) for your decision making process?

I would suggest that every decision we take  impacts people and relationships in one way or other.
In the organizational context, we work with ever changing tasks, roles, teams and geographical challenges of Outsourcing, Global deployment of Processes and teams, Language and Cultural differences.
Therefore we always need to rely (to a balanced extent of course), on the value and indeed appropriateness of Intuition. This idea is congruent with the with the theory of Emotional Intelligence model:

Wikipedia: Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.
The previously described environment is heavily dependent on one’s ability to recognize their own underlying in the two potential situations (when things are going and when they are not) – and then apply the same awareness with the others they are working with/depend upon.
Our environment, requires greater awareness of what makes us… and other people tick? Therefore we may find ourselves in situations where need to develop a greater awareness and dependency on Intuiveness and Emotional intelligence (by design) just because it is one of those easily applied and understood behaviours that we are able to deploy naturally…and without the need for any significant, external effort.

However as mentioned before (and as a key criteria in the SDI model)…any strength , if overused…rapidly morphs into a liability or weakness.
He who treats everything like a nail is generally good with a hammer. He who is exceptionally skeptical of making quick decisions, could soon become the cause for delaying every project or initiative requiring his approval. She who is good with numbers may end up checking, double checking and then some…until the reason for the decision becomes redundant because it is so deeply buried in a morass of paralysis by analysis!