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How to make better decisions – analytic vs intuitive thinking


Everybody want to be able to make good decisions and this is even more important for managers, as their decision will impact not only themselves but their team and their company. How can we get better at it and why we make bad decisions.

Analytic vs Intuitive

From Neuroscience News: “intuition is the result of information processing in the brain that results in prediction based on previous experience.”  Sometimes intuition is confused with experience, but it is not the same, experience helps you understand the issues, but you need the extra step that is reading, understanding different situations and make the right decision.

Analytic decision making is logical and process based. Usually it follow a rigid framework and needs to be supported by data and facts before making a decision.

Analytic decisions are made based on fact and data and usually take more time.

Intuitive(gut) decisions are made based on individual experience, are subjective and are fast.

AnalyticLogical and structured
Based on data and analysis
Less subjective

Time and resource intense
May ignore experience
Can breakdown for complex multifaceted issues
IntuitiveTime and resource efficient
Can tackle complex multifaceted issues
Subjective – Bias
require experience
Analytic vs Intuitive

Decision making

Analytics decision are more suited to medium / long term planning or strategy, or for research, when you have time to follow the process and steps needed to come up with the best solution – Examples would be the initial planning of a project or the forward strategy for a company.

Intuitive decision are more for executional / operational situation, when you have to react quickly with the information you have – Examples the short term decision that are made during a project with limited information, team changes, last minute scope changes.

Intuition is sometimes undervalued in management as everything needs to be planned and there is no place for chances, but it is probably one of the most powerful asset a manager can have.

A manager needs to be able to plan and execute a vision, being a project or the company vision. Planning is usually a time consuming thinking exercise that will make the manager to start from a top down roadmap to the final vision, and work on the details of the roadmap to minimise deviations and risks. During this planning phase analytic thinking is required.

What make the vision reality is the execution of the plan and the decision you make during the journey. When you plan you make decisions on how to execute the plan but once you execute it, you will always have unplanned factors that will influence your plan. This will require Intuition to make sure that decision are made quickly.

We are all experiencing it with Covid19 company and managers had to adapt to this new situation and change their plans, how fast you adapt and how you make decision is the difference between success and failure of a project or a company.

short thinking and intuition

Make the “best” decision

On a daily base most of us have to make decision on what’s right from what’s wrong in our work. The decision you make will influence not just you but your team and the company. It is not about the right decision but it’s about the best decision, you can make a lot of right decision and this can have a reasonable outcome for the team/company or come up with the best decision that may get an optimal result. This is intuition, make the best decision in within a short thinking time.

What is the best way to make a decision depends from the person that is making the decision and the issue he’s facing. We should consider a blend of the two thinking method in order to make the best decision.

You should trust your intuition for the response if you have limited time, but as intuition is subjective whenever you can you should question your decision against your own biases, making sure you are not taking a biased decision (Cognitive bias).

Remember we can only take a decision with the information and time we have been given. Retrospectively with more information and data there could have been a better response. There is no one right solution for complex problems, you need the best solution for the situation you were at a given time.

How can you get better in making decisions? Depending from issues you are facing, the more complex the issue the more you need to be able to have a holistic view of the problem, understand the links and the cause /effect between the different parts.

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