The Intuitive Manager
Intuition may be as important to business decisions as market studies, computerised data or consultants' reports, an interesting US study has concluded.
The study shows that people rated as "highly intuitive" make the best managerial decisions — as much as 15 to 18 per cent better than their less gifted colleagues.
Fascinated by tales of managers who claimed that "gut feeling" or a hunch was behind good business decisions, John Aplin and Richard Cosier, both associate professors of management at Indiana University, prepared a series of tests to see whether or not students identified as highly intuitive would make better decisions in simulated management situations.
To identify the highly intuitive types, they put 103 business students through a standard extra-sensory (ESP) card-reading experiment. A second series of slightly different ESP tests was given to eliminate the element of luck.
Fourteen of the group were identified by Aplin and Cosier as being "highly intuitive", but were not told about their special status.
Next, the whole group went through a series of management decision-making exercises. Using simulated case studies, complete with corporate financial data and other business information, the students were asked to make some managerial decisions.
"The 'highly intuitive' students were significantly better than the others at assessing financial performance of the simulated companies," Cosier said.
While not claiming the data proves the existence'of ESP, the researchers conclude that "it is difficult to interpret the results without assuming the possibility that intuitive abilities outside of the traditional five senses exist.
"It is conceivable that organisations should attempt to directly identify employees with unusually high intuition. These employees may prove invaluable in making strategic decisions," they said.
Cosier claims this study is really the first scientific research of intuition and its role in management decision making. Business writers have noted that top profit makers are often good hunch players. J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Conrad Hilton and Alfred Sloan all alluded to the importance of intuitive skills in decision making.
However, he added, many management scholars are reluctant to accept the possibility that ESP or intuitive powers exist. He believes results of this study show that further investigation is definitely merited.