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Rita Clifton on intuition versus planning

Updated Friday 18th February 2011

"You've got to be able to back up your decisions - you can't just say 'because I said so'"

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Rita Clifton: Well I think the answer to this one is very much a balance of the two. There are clearly some entrepreneurs and inventors who will tell you that they go entirely on their gut and it’s all about a feel and they have an instinct. But in the vast majority of companies these days you have to back up your instinct with evidence, with research, you know, with business case support.

So you might have a gut instinct about something but very soon you have to assemble the information and the evidence that either proves or disproves that particular gut instinct or that particular hypothesis. And particularly in this changing age of shareholder, stakeholder scrutiny, you’ve got to be able to back up your decisions. You can’t just say because I said so.

You have to say well this is the view that I’ve arrived at because, and here is the data, here is the forensic evidence, and frankly here is the financial back up too, you have to do that, and that in many ways is combining left and right brain capabilities.

You know, you have to make sure you’ve got the left brain in rational order to make sure that the case is there. But of course in the right brain you might well be making more instinctive judgements and more subjective judgements at that, and yes absolutely going with your gut.

Interviewer: Would you ever make a decision without backing it up?

Rita Clifton: I might make a decision without backing it up in my heart of hearts; however I would still want to look for the evidence.

And I think any rational business person would want to do that. Even though for example you might go into a company, you might make up your mind about the abilities or the talents or the suitability of certain people, now often that will be the best instinct that you’ll have about whether they’re going to be the right people.

And your instinct might well be let’s act on that fast, and yet that wouldn’t be fair either to those people, and it may not be a rational business judgement when those people are doing particular roles or building particular client relationships. So you always have to make sure that the rational, the emotional, the gut and the forensic evidence have to work in tandem

Intuition or planning - or a mix of both?

 

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