Observational intuition: Making sense of what is staring at us
People Matters|July 2020
Observational intuition: Making sense of what is staring at us
One does not need to be a genius to make sense of trends and events and capitalize on them to come out better at the end. Instead, if one can observe, understand, and apply intuition, opportunities will reveal themselves.

Have you ever had the feeling of being confounded by a clearly observable pattern that is seemingly inexplicable? While the reason is hiding in plain sight right in front of us, it suddenly all falls together with a simple explanation. As individuals, we are intuitively reactive and prepare better for well defined, near term events. Preparing proactively for slowly emerging trends like the consequences of connected markets and digital transformation requires observational intuition that most perceive subconsciously, but few act upon. Observational Intuition can be defined as the process of actively engaging and applying intuition to all the observable, latent information that is otherwise consumed passively to continually create new opportunities.

These clearly observable events can have beneficial or catastrophic consequences for markets, companies and employees depending on their ability to visualize, contextualize, aggregate and make timely decisions on available, self-evident information. Without that ability, celebrated CEOs (think General Electric or Yahoo) who were considered geniuses have seen their strategies collapse, businesses fail and “lifer” employees become irrelevant.

The commonly accepted notion is that it takes genius to discover or invent breakthroughs, develop and articulate strategic models, or identify market dislocations. However, even geniuses really only extend and build upon an available body of work. Often, the original model fails (remember MySpace, AOL) but the refined versions succeed (think Facebook, Google). You often succeed by not being the first mover, but by using observational intuition to innovate and improve an existing idea, process, product or service. When markets, companies and technologies transform dynamically, what can employees do to act on observational intuition themselves, even if they are not geniuses?

The typical employee has no pretensions to brilliance or unique insights, but has pragmatic observations and intuitions on the state of affairs at the ground level. Those who don't keep up with change know that they will be rendered irrelevant. And yet, most are paralyzed by inertia to invest in, or reinvent themselves. Your personal interests are served best by your own observational intuition.


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July 2020