Learning from intuitive hits and misses

It is important to acknowledge the vital role played by your gut feelings in all aspects of work.


Whether we like it or not, we have all experienced intuition. It is often in in situations where we are faced with a complex and potentially-life changing decision for ourselves, our employees or our business. It can be a hard-to-pin-down vibe given off by a candidate in a selection interview, a knee-jerk reaction to a pitch from a public relations agency, a hunch about a risky new project tabled at a board meeting or in any number of complex decision-making or problem-solving situations. We don’t invite intuitions in, they gate crash our experience. We don’t know where they come from, seemingly arising out of the blue. They tend to be sticky, nagging away at us until we give them our attention. They are pervasive, and can be very persuasive, in professional and personal life, ubiquitous across situations and cultures, and potentially powerful and perilous in equal measure. For these reasons it is vital that managers acknowledge and understand intuition, are able to interpret their own and other peoples’ intuitions, and can use intuition in discerning and discriminating ways rather than being beguiled or hindered by their gut feelings.

Eugene Sadler-Smith

Eugene Sadler-Smith is professor of organisational behaviour at Surrey Business School, University of Surrey, UK. Prior to his academic career, he worked in the training and development function of British Gas plc. His intuition research has been featured in The Times and on BBC Radio 4 and published in peer-reviewed journals such as Academy of Management Executive, Academy of Management Learning and Education, British Journal of Psychology, Business Ethics Quarterly, Organization Studies, etc. He is the author of several books including Inside intuition (2008) and The Intuitive Mind (2010).