A lot is said about the importance of gut instinct in making decisions, but the fact is that decision making is a multifaceted process that requires both evidence and rationality to make it viable and consistent.

While we indeed may have seen how intuition works very well in life threatening situations when we have to make split second choices, relying solely on instinct for making important decisions is nothing short of dangerous.

Why? Most of the time, sixth sense or gut feeling is a reaction to the subconscious recognition of patterns which has been stored in memory from past experience

According to a large body of research, it has been proved that intuition works well only in certain situations where we are able to get rapid and immediate signals and feedback from the environment. When we are making complex decisions where a number of factors come into play intuition somehow gets mixed up with irrationality.

Clear and empirical evidence paves the way for sound and reliable business decisions, and many organisations the world over are improving their competitive edge by rational and evidence based decision making. Here are some tips on how you can reduce your reliance on gut feel and use rational and tangible evidence to support your choices and decisions.

Easy access:Organisations today have quick and easy access to all kinds of relevant and accurate business information related to products, customers, employees, the markets, competitors and what not.

There exist numerous tools like business intelligence, management reporting, statistical techniques and research information which can be used to gather data that can help in making intelligent, informed choices.

Data when properly analysed and evaluated turns out to be a valuable source of evidence.

After all, even ambiguous terms like big picture goals and strategic future plans gain greater clarity and focus if they are backed using hard facts and data.

There is no need therefore, for us to make guesses or take arbitrary decisions like we had to a few decades ago. Today we can derive much greater value and optimise our decision making processes by simply leveraging technology and information at our disposal.

That said, the best decisions are ideally made through a synthesis of both external evidence and internal knowledge that is a product of education, training and experience of people. While we can easily retrieve data that is stored in a computer or a document, the knowledge stored in the minds of people is far more difficult to access. Internal knowledge can be accessed by asking questions and engaging people in discussion. Tactic knowledge on the other hand cannot be understood or expressed except by the person who has it, for example, specific skills or talent possessed by a person.It is for this reason it is necessary to involve people with relevant experience and insight in the decision making process.

People with different experiences can often offer different insights to a decision and by discussing and correlating the data and evidence gathered with the knowledge and practical wisdom of managers, we can ensure the decisions are more balanced and free of individual bias.

The data, evidence and practical insights are then analysed, amalgamated and turned into actionable knowledge that can be used by managers to make appropriate choices.

Managers and decision makers in organisations also need to be trained in putting these practices to use on a systemic basis.

The practices and procedures within the organisational setup too need to be fine-tuned and streamlined to reflect scientific management and a rational mindset.

Decisions that have been carefully evaluated and weighed against the best evidence will surely turn out to be far more objective and reliable than those that have been made in an arbitrary manner.

This is not to say that intuition has no place in business decisions. Even intuitive flashes of insight come out much stronger and more actionable when they are put through the tests of rationality and logic.

Bindu Sridhar

faqs@cnkonline.com

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