– THE MOST UNDERRATED PATTERN RECOGNITION INBUILT IN US!
At this time, when data is the king and is pivotal to our decisions, talking about intuition or gut-feel in the context sounds horse-and-buggy. Equipped with technology at our disposal in this hyper-connected world which generates over TBs of data every day overshadows the technology which is inbuilt in us. Humans are the best pattern recognition machines leading to the quality or ability called “Intuition”.
There had been numerous instances when I had done some deep analysis, based on hard core facts and figure related to some problem and then comes someone who just glances over and makes a remark like, hey this sounds kinda off… and it eventually turns out it indeed was!
It is ironical that, despite this being a powerful ability, it is very less talked about, thought and not nurtured, perhaps the reason is the abstract nature of it. Many people use the term “intuition” to describe the feeling they have while making decisions, but they don’t provide strong evidence to support unconscious information in our brain or body to guide our behavior. Even more ironical is the fact that often, a more intuitively sharp person is evaluated negatively in contrast to the other complementary counterpart, a kind of Cornelian dilemma.
We are designed to see patterns and not only does the brain processes information as it comes in, it also accumulates the learnings & insights from past experiences, forever. This leads to intuition which has been developing and enriching itself like what we now call “Big Data” for as long as we’ve been alive. Intuition leverages this big data almost unconsciously like a super-fast super-computer from that deep and intelligent data-warehouse in the mind to make decisions going forward.
Analogically speaking, intuitive decisions are based on data, in a way.
The way I prefer to look at it rather than getting into the debate of “Intuition” vs “Data”, is to use both in synergistic manner.
Let me bring into context the philosophy of a great teach and investor whom I admire a lot and have a learned a lot from. Sometime back I learned the concept of the term called “Mental Models” – Charlie Munger, the billionaire business partner of Warren Buffett famous as one of the best thinkers today.
“What is elementary, worldly wisdom? Well, the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ‘em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form.”
“You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models.”
He further says,
Note the most important word here, he uses the term “latticework” to indicate the interconnected nature of models in mind!
Culturally, we have been taught to be rational when making decisions about anything ranging from complex business decisions to as simple as what should I wear today. It is that instinct and intuition which takes a back seat. The most powerful and impactful decision making ability perhaps comes when one has nurtured and developed the ability to unconsciously amalgamate intuition with data to fit in the mental models which are just there deep within.
DATA VERSUS INTUITION IS WORTHLESS
Taking decisions based on sole intuition & gut-geeling will lead to failure as this ones side comfortable approach overlooks the fact that devil lies in the details. On the other side, decisions based on just data which is almost always limited in terms of scope and degrees of freedom often overlooks the abstract and unfolding story behind. Leveraging data in the context of latticework of mental models and building some kind of relationship between the two, mentally, is the key.