Norman considered himself to be a very logical man; he did so because when he had to make a decision, he’d write out on a yellow pad all of the reasons pro and con, some of them gathered from “outside opinions,” and when in his mind one side of the page outweighed the other, he’d go with that option.
To me, his process was overly analytical. Just because the “con” side of the ledger might be more full than the “pro” side, in terms of lines on the page, did not mean that you have correctly evaluated and weighted every factor. Some factors may be much more important than others. Overanalysis does not, I believe, lead to the best decisions. that call for decisions, but I never write out my reasons for making the decision. I can’t, because not all of my “reasons” are logic-based. Many of the elements on which I rely are sensations or nonverbal clues; these latter are very important, for instance, in reaching a decision about choosing a candidate for a job.
Actually, my objection to solely relying on logic goes deeper than that. When I say, “I feel,” I mean precisely that I have a feeling in my gut, not a physical ache but nevertheless a sensation strong enough to send me a message, an instinctual, persuasive message telling me that one or the other direction is the right one to go in.
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In business, intuition has a bad rap. But my belief about decisions, born of experience, is that all decisions are essentially intuitive, and that each intuitive decision is made up of smaller “mini-intuitions” that cumulatively give rise to that sensation that I feel in my gut about the best way to go. Most of these mini-intuitions are not quite conscious ones, and they come from clues in the environment that we are not always aware of understanding or of reacting to. But the clues exist, and we must pay attention to them rather than ignore our intuition-based decisions. We can always look for “proof,” but my sense of the proof provided by outside experts is that, more often than not, it, too, is just another opinion.
Recently, scientists have begun to find that trusting your gut instincts is a good idea. “We may actually know more than we think we know in everyday situations,” said a Northwestern University neuroscientist after doing a research study. “Intuition may have an important role in finding answers to all sorts of problems.”
In matters such as evaluating whom to trust, intuition is everything. Resumes and recommendation letters don’t tell you everything that you need to know to make a decision about that person, and certainly not all that you may obtain from direct contact and interaction with him or her. An in-person session provides lots of clues about someone’s trustworthiness, confidence, and competence.