Business intelligence is a major factor in decision making these days.
There doesn’t seem to be much room for instinct anymore since everything is factored against risk calculations and a dozen different ratios. This isn’t a bad thing, either; while data can’t predict the future, it can show you whether trends favor one decision or another. Still, there’s something to be said for taking a risk and trusting your gut every now and again.
Of course, instinctual decisions shouldn’t be made lightly. Flying by the seat of your pants and relying solely on instinct is a good way to run your business into the ground (or at least have people wondering if there’s someone else who should be making these decisions). If you want to trust your gut and go by instinct, that’s great; here are a few ways that you can do it without losing the shirt off your back.
Taking the Risk
Business is about risk, though the amount of risk differs based on the decisions being made.
There are a lot of tools out there to help you minimize that risk, but there’s always some risk there. After all, no matter what anybody tells you, machines can’t predict the future. This means that the final decision is up to you, and sometimes it’s a hard one to make.
When you’re faced with a risk that’s tempting but not a guarantee, it might come down to your instinct deciding which way to go with it. You can ask for advice and consult all of the data, but in the end it’s a gut decision.
Seizing an Opportunity
On some occasions, new opportunities will arise that you don’t really have time to wait and crunch the numbers for. These are usually related to shifts in the local market or events occurring that you can take advantage of if you act quickly. Since time is of the essence, you may have to go with your gut if you’re going to beat your competitors to the punch.
That doesn’t mean that you should rush in blindly, of course; consult your advisors and any data you can find, but you may not be able to linger too long. A missed opportunity is a missed opportunity, and sometimes it’s up to a very small number of people with a limited amount of model data to decide whether that opportunity should be taken or passed up.
Watching for Dishonesty
There are other places that gut feelings can come in handy in business.
One is during negotiation or other formal interactions with outside parties. Sometimes you just get a feeling that the other party isn’t being completely straight with you; maybe he’s stretching the truth, maybe he’s leaving something out. Regardless, you’ve got a bad feeling about the deal that’s going to go down.
This is especially the case if you’ve studied body language before since little signs that the other person gives away can inform your gut feeling. You shouldn’t necessarily abandon a deal completely just because something doesn’t feel right, but you should definitely proceed with caution from that point on.
Blazing a New Path
Sometimes in business you’ll find your company considering a bold departure from the norm.
You’ve got data and models to support a new expansion or spinoff, but it’s so different than what your company is known for. Consumers might eat it up, or they might wonder what you’re thinking and reject both the new venture and your existing company.
This is where gut decisions come into play. You can look at the data and see where the trends seem to go, but the decision still has to be made by you. Follow your intuition as best you can.
What’s Your Plan?
If you’re struggling with whether to follow your gut, stop and consider what the plan is for your company.
Does the pull in your gut stay true to your company’s mission statement and goals? This can help you to determine whether your decisions are really what’s best for the company, since you don’t want to take it in a direction where it will betray its core ideals. At the same time, you don’t want to avoid risks and opportunities that fall within the spirit of the company just because you don’t know if you should trust your instincts.
Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
Fear of failure holds back a lot of decision makers.
It’s true, you might fail and you might fail hard. You can’t let that rule your decision-making process, though. Look at the business intelligence data you can, weigh the risks and make the best decision you can based on what you have available. If fear holds you back, you may end up regretting it later.