Improve Your Intuitive Thinking

“The real challenge is not whether to trust intuition, but how to strengthen it to make it more trustworthy.” ~ Gary Klein, PhD, The Power of Intuition: How to Use Your Gut to Make Better Decisions at Work (Crown Business, 2004) Many executives will tell you that decisions should be based solely on a thorough analysis of data. But a new breed aims to achieve breakthroughs by harnessing the power of intuition. The more experiences we have, the stronger our intuition becomes. Repetition (practice) sets the stage for competency. Intuitive decision-making improves when we acquire more patterns, recognize how they play out and develop a larger repertoire of strategies. Pattern Recognition Repeated experiences are unconsciously linked to form patterns. A pattern is a set of connected cues. When you spot a few of the cues, you can expect to find others. As we gain experience at work, we assemble a catalog of recognizable patterns. Over time, it becomes easier to match a situation with a previous pattern. Truly inspired decisions require a more sophisticated mechanism: cross-indexing. The ability to see similar patterns in disparate fields elevates your intuitive skills. Action Responses Patterns include routines for responding, known as “action scripts.” If we see a situation as typical, then we can recognize the typical action to take. We develop hunches about what’s really going on and how we should respond. Using our intuition, we translate our experiences into judgments and action responses. When intuitive leaders see familiar patterns, their response is usually obvious. Professor Klein offers the following diagram to explain the pattern-recognition process behind intuitive decision-making: Pattern recognition occurs...
The Tricky Art of the Apology

The Tricky Art of the Apology

Who hasn’t said something in the heat of the moment that they regret? Everyone makes mistakes. We make insensitive statements, we speak before we think, and we let our emotions get the best of us. No workplace is perfect. Managers berate subordinates in meetings. Colleagues make snide remarks about each other. Even worse, people send emails, texts, or tweets without giving sufficient consideration to how the messages will be received. This makes our insensitivities more public and all the more egregious. Even seasoned executives aren’t immune from foot-in-mouth disease. Tony Hayward, the former CEO of British Petroleum, famously complained that he “wanted his life back” in the midst of the 2010 oil spill. (He later apologized to the families of the workers who had died in the tragedy, as well as the thousands of people whose lives were totally disrupted.) Former Harvard President and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers had to apologize in 2005 for his contention that “innate differences” between men and women accounted for the under-representation of women in the sciences. Senior advertising executive Justine Sacco was fired for posting an insensitive and racist tweet about AIDS in Africa. And more recently, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella apologized for suggesting that women should not speak up about pay inequities. It’s time for an apology. But apologies can be tricky and can backfire. Without some forethought, an apology – public or private – is no guarantee you’ll redeem yourself. Sometimes, people aren’t ready to forgive. More often than not, however, your apology fails because you apologize the wrong way. Most people approach it with some version of: “I’m sorry, I...