Leaders are usually keen to stress that they use data in their decision making.
Whether it’s hard facts, statistics, or spreadsheets; data is raised on a pedestal of rationality.
We’ve come to accept that a rational data-drive decision making style; characterised by research for, and logical evaluation of, data is the only decision-making style.
But there’s a source of data and insight that leaders have in their toolkit to inform their decision making that’s oftentimes neglected.
A hunch or gut feeling holds a lot less weight than numbers. But it shouldn’t be discounted so readily.
There’s great research on how experienced firefighters just knew when to get out a burning building the moment before it collapsed. It found that skilful leaders rely on their experience, the pattern-recognition they’ve acquired over decades, to quickly size up situations and identify the option most likely to work.
The truth is that how a decision was taken is often post-rationalised as rational, even when there was a deeply emotional and subjective component to it.
We do this because the emotional part of problem solving isn’t seen as legitimate in Western corporations. Decisions based on cool reason are still seen as the gold standard.
Perhaps it’s time to bring our subjective data back onto the executive team table in decision making. Because, let’s face it, it’s there anyway.
This is what I explore in today’s podcast.