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You Can Build An Intuitive Organization

The use of intuition in business has been steadily gaining in respectability over the past few years. The trend is poised to escalate for good reason. Too many CEO's and executives have "gotten it wrong" at the core of business strategy. Many are now asking questions about how to "get it right". The way to do this may have a lot to do with getting more intuitive in business.

Softer skills - like intuition - have high capability to influence better results in productivity, performance, cycle time, responsiveness to the business environment, adapting to change, and innovation. Each of these directly impacts profit, success and survival in the business arena. It is now good advice for companies to think about ways to develop intuitive competencies and build collaborative intuition into business processes.

This is not your mother's intuition. It goes beyond gender, role and culture as an attribute of higher integrative intelligence. Based on research in learning and cognition we now accept that intelligence has many different forms. Perhaps, considering the abject failure of logic and reason to be solely and accurately predictive of accelerating whole-scale change, this is why we have a better appreciation now for intuitive intelligence. We know that to thrive in today's globally competitive business environment we must find better ways to get intuition, recognize it, become skilled in using it and responding to our insights.

Intuition knowledge in business needs to be relevant, current and framed in the language and multiple contexts of the business environment. People in organizations, while maybe lacking in collective intuitive skills, are the only ones with the ability to apply and use the information together with the know-how to achieve results.

Intuition is a fuzzy subject and more an art than science. While it's true that most of us are better at deriving predictability through logic as a result of excessive schooling in learning to think like a machine, intuition has an important place - in strategy, business intelligence, leadership, learning and performance and in innovation, solving problems and making decisions. The direct application of intuition in business today needs to be defined and articulated.

In the past, most breakthroughs in an organization occurred within the executive ranks. In the future, the expectation is that more breakthroughs will occur at an operations or implementation level. So it's time to position and place our evolving cognition and awareness in the right places. Speed is no longer enough if it is the byproduct of an outmoded thought process. Intuition is instant.

Let's define what kind of intuition we are talking about here. Intuition is typically information that arrives suddenly without expectation or effort, an insight, sudden flash, an "aha", or a clear sense of knowing. Given the complex scenarios and interconnectedness of the issues that businesses face, the sense of intuition is often a superior cognitive sense. It binds results from several areas in a very rapid time frame and brings with it, when perceived correctly, a clear certainty about a favourable or unfavourable outcome at a future point in time.

There are two kinds of insights. One that is purely intuitive, coming from "unknown" information, and the other kind that comes from experience. Experience in the evolving world is becoming less important than learning to adapt to a future that will be different from the past. So greater development of the first kind of insight becomes more important as a competency.

The sense of intuition occurs at an individual level - a problem for some organizations because the histology of corporate development has evolved from a sense of collective purpose in which individual will is subservient. If intuition is to work, a culture has to accept that the individual can contribute more to the collective, and from this increased contribution, the collective learns more. So, in a sense, the nature of a group business mind will have to change because individuals are, well, individuals. They evolve, learn, and acquire skills at their own pace. While in a learning mode chances are we will have make individual perception more important than group perception, until the group as a whole begins to integrate and think intuitively together. That will come, later. In the beginning you can expect to be much more experimental.

The top 3 competitive issues for all business - innovation, productivity, and skills - will all realize significant forward impact with a more pronounced intuitive competency in business. When you consider that foreign jurisdictions, like India for instance, which has been experiencing high annual growth for several consecutive years now, uses more holistic models for business and learning, the reality hits. Your global competition is already beginning to cultivate these skills.

Certainly there are organization and cultural factors that are prerequisite to developing collective intuitive skill. These include a high level of trust, a strong value for individuals, good communications and a culture that enables rather than suppresses risk taking.

Realize that getting intuition into your business doesn't mean leaving everything else behind, it means bringing in some new and exceptionally valid forms of perception in ways that extend our capability to be successful humans and have successful businesses.
Here are some ways to get intuition into your business, starting at the top:

Vision and Strategy
Vision is first. A vision that is conceived only mentally falls short of its ability to move people. When strategy itself doesn't fail a company, the rest of the failures happen on the next level - implementation.

Intuitive vision includes a bigger picture, it includes the emotional and passion-factor of the vision. Vision therefore must, engage the heart and inspire. This drives commitment, which is the leverage factor in implementation. It is well worth taking the step before strategy is formulated to get quiet, take a step back, become reflective and feel this vision. Get it right at the vision stage and you and your implementation team won't have to strain to implement around what's lacking. Results will be easier to achieve and people will feel more energized along the way.

Have receptiveness at the executive level to include intuitive cognition in putting together a vision?
Accept that integrating some of the feeling/emotional information can make your vision more complete?
Have a clear picture of what you want to achieve and why?
Willing to work on it until it feels complete with no exceptions?
Believe that vision is the most important step?
Do you trust each other?
Are your executives unlikely to use intuition as a way to force their personal opinion on others?
Can they work with this openly and willingly?

What To Do
1.) Get your vision clearly, completely and distinctly before you determine your strategy.

2.) Encourage your executive team to deliberately suspend the intellectual cognition for a specified time, preferably overnight or days, go for the felt sense, the meaning, how compelling the vision feels, it's visceral attractiveness. Allow time for individual reflection, then come back together as a team and bring the insights to the group without counter argument or evaluation. Only allow questions and discussion that are directed towards understanding. Then disengage to reflect again for a day or two before returning to the group and deciding. You will likely be in a much better place to determine strategy.

3.) Invite people on your next level or two levels down to try on your vision and see how it feels to them and listen to their insights. If it's not compelling enough go back to the drawing board and work on the missing pieces until you can see clearly where and how you want to be.

4.) Articulate your vision in the present sense as if it existed today.

5.) Once you decide strategy, determine if it has legs. Is it mobilizing to your leaders and implementation group? How does the energy commitment feel? Does it feel fast, exciting, sluggish, difficult? If the energy isn't right, change the strategy until it feels right. Once a strategy has legs, then give it running shoes - an implementation team.

Business Intelligence Processes
Formally include intuitive information as a feedback loop in all forms of intelligence - environmental, market, competitive, and organizational. As an information parameter, this can act as a high value adjunct to other data you collect. Keeping intuitive data separate gives it the significance to be important. Distancing it from other forms of intelligence gives people the concentration to perceive it more distinctly and accurately. Include processes that differentiate purely intuitive information, which is valuable, from other forms of emotional feedback that is not, like fear-based responses, or discomforts like inexperience, resource, or skill deficits that attempt to speak through intuitive feedback because they don't get a proper hearing elsewhere. Be very attentive to your communication processes.

Are you ready:
Does your organization or executive board believe in doing this?
Have they prepared a spoken or written commitment to include intuitive feedback as a valid feedback source?
Has the organization communicated the business reasons for doing this?
Has the development of intuitive skill been included in your training plan?

What To Do:
1.) Build a formal intuitive feedback loop into each business intelligence process, either as a dedicated meeting or as data and documentation input. The type needed will vary between organizations and types of intelligence gathering processes.
2.) Give people training in learning how to listen to, cultivate and discern their own intuitive feedback.
3.) Whether in groups or individually, ensure that the business environment for intuitive feedback be stress, pressure and distraction free during those times.
4.) Give enough organizational time so that this mode of sensing is thoroughly experienced, especially when building up skill capacity.

People & Performance - When you invite people to become more intuitive at work you are initiating an open change with regard to their whole involvement with your company. Rather than only valuing the person who performs tasks on behalf of your company you are inviting them to become more personally involved, to leverage their pride and care for your corporate vision and results. In order to do this they must find your work personally meaningful to themselves and for the larger cause. While this clearly imposes a potential change in your commitment to your staff it also opens the door for worthwhile mutual gains, better performance and emotional intelligence.

Are you ready?
Is your vision compelling enough to motivate your staff personally?
Have you identified and clearly articulated the human values and results that the work you do together brings to your society and who benefits?
Do you deliberately create opportunities for people to grow and learn?
Do you provide training and other types of learning or development to your staff?
Do you have a healthy, functional and positive work environment and relationships?
Does your company deal productively and openly with conflict?
Have you defined intuition as both an individual and organizational competency?

What to do:
1.) Cultivate appropriate language and value for people who use good intuitive sense.
2.) Let your leaders and managers be seen to be attempting to use intuition in their transactions and communication with others.
3.) Provide training to your staff and leaders in how to develop and listen to their intuition and how to use it to communicate better.
4.) Include communication in company newsletters or other formal processes about how intuition is valued with examples.
5.) Include good use of intuition as a feedback attribute in performance.
6.) Showcase positive results.
7.) Use intuition to help identify current and future leaders in your organization.

Other Applied processes that benefit from the use of Intuition:

Innovation - When used in innovation intuition becomes part of an applied creativity process, among other necessary components, like imagination or creative idea generation. It contributes to having an Innovation Strategy and Training Plan.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems - Individuals who use intuition in decision-making can achieve far better results than those that use facts and logic alone. Highly integrated individuals are able to do both well. Specific learning processes can be used to train people on intuitive decision-making.

Wellness - Intuitive people have a better chance at recognizing the symptoms of stress and can take the steps required for better self-care and reducing burn out. This improves productivity while reducing losses and absenteeism due to stress.

Arupa Tesolin, owner of the training firm Intuita, is a consultant, speaker, seminar leader and author of The Intuita 3-Minute Solutions for Innovation, Intuition, Vision & Stress. Her numerous international publications on intuition in business have established her as a thought leader in this field. She is currently working on a new book entitled "Becoming An Intuitive Organization". Contact her at www.intuita.com, intuita@intuita.com or 905.271.7272.

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