THE BLOG
11/16/2012 06:43 pm ET | Updated Jan 16, 2013

Stop Trying to Use Your Intuition and Get Busy

Intuition makes business decisions more successful. That's what 100 top U.S. CEOs said several years ago when asked by Harvard Business Review to what they attributed their phenomenal success. However, intuition without business acumen can spell disaster.

Brian was opening a small resort focused on business-meeting facilities. He was amply funded through a business partner who did not want a hands-on role. I supported him as a business adviser and supported his team in implementing operations. Brian was an entrepreneur -- highly intuitive and a practiced meditator.

There were many practical, everyday decisions to be made, from the resort service offerings to the individual décor of the units. The leadership team made most of those decisions, while the final review was left to Brian. I helped him think through the options, opportunities, and the potential consequences of diverse choices, and was liaison with other leaders and their requirements and requests.

Sometimes Brian received conflicting information or opinions from his leadership team, and he had a hard time deciding what to do. So he would meditate -- trying to find an intuitive hit as to the right direction.

While I respected this as a way to be clear and receive information that would be helpful, meditation turned out to be his primary way of decision making, sometimes grinding operations to a halt until he was finished. When it was time to make a key decision as the resort opening date drew closer, Brian decided to go on a 10-day silent retreat!

It was then I said, "Brian, your intuition led you to this vision, and it looks like you are going to realize it. That's great news. However, this has been a slower process than it needed to be because you don't know whom to trust and you aren't always intuitively clear to respond to every decision you have to make.

"In the long term, operational success requires informed confidence -- you either trust the people you hire or you trust your own decisions. My suggestion is that you take some basic business courses and learn how to ask intelligent questions of your team. That way you can support your intuition and build greater trust in others' competence. You can't be successful when your fear leads the way."

Brian did not follow my recommendation and went instead to his retreat. So I amiably left my consulting role at that point.

The resort did open -- a year later, and under different ownership.

Relying on intuition or inner guidance alone, follow-through and sustainability are unlikely outcomes.

On the other hand, if analysis has authority as the only guide, success is possible -- while feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness prevail.

As Modesto A. Maidique, a Visiting Professor at the Harvard Business School said, "Intuition Isn't Just about Trusting your Gut."

It is only when decisions are factually infused and intuitively informed that inspired production is possible!