The Power of Intuition. How to use your gut feelings to make better decisions at work.
by Gary Klein
review by Riccardo Paterni
Klein is, according to FastCompany, a “fearless thinker...(who) had the
courage to bet his career on the hunch that people have grossly underestimated
the power of gut instinct”. I have had the pleasure to meet Dr.Klein in person
and I “got infected” by his fearless thinking to the point that I proudly edited the translation of this book in Italian and I wrote an Afterword to the book linking its ideas and findings to the Italian cultural social and productive context (the book was published in July 2006 by Guerini & Associati - Milan and during the months of February and March 2007 I'll present it in locations across Italy facilitating seminars / debates on the topic of book - more info on the Italian edition at this link).
Klein’s work and research findings tend to
be unconventional and counterintuitive (now that we can learn what intuition
really is...) on many of the topics part of today’s management ideas and fads
(planning and organizational learning being just some of them). What makes
Klein’s work interesting is his way to get a real picture of what is actually
happening in organizations through sound, pragmatic research focusing on
improving the way we work and enabling us to become aware of and to
utilize our full potential.
Intuition: a straightforward approach...
there is no magic!
Within this mindset, “The Power of
Intuition” becomes a resourceful tool to understand, discover and routinely
utilize the dynamics of intuition. Klein elaborates on this topic in a very
pragmatic way originated by more than twenty years of research on the behavior
of people that have to rely on intuition on a daily basis such as firefighters,
U.S. Marine Corps, pilots. This work has shaped Klein’s definition of
intuition in a quite straightforward and intriguing sentence: “intuition is
the way we translate our experience into action”.
This sentence is the essential foundation of
the three parts of the book. Intuition: Ways to build it; Intuition: Ways to
apply it; Intuition: Ways to Safeguard it. The three sections are filled with
training tools and actual case studies to learn from and relate to. By this
approach the reader is brought to realize that intuition is an actual decision
making tool we all can develop and learn to utilize; a decision making tool that
integrates analysis, it does not replace it and actually Klein himself utilizes
intuition by “paying attention to my initial impulses before thinking
How to capitalize on experience...
Within a societal and economic context
featuring an increasing rapid change, we are facing ever increasing situations
requiring an effective and efficient assessment before making choices and taking
action. Intuition is a powerful tool to utilize during these instances at both
the individual and organizational decision making level. Many of Klein’s
observations help us to understand how and why experience can strengthen our
innate intuition abilities. The book helps us to understand, make sense of, and
properly processes our experiences in empowering and practical ways.
Klein, while articulating the origin and
findings of his research and supporting them with actual case studies, helps us
to identify strategies and tactics suited to experience our professional lives
with a sort of “common sense” approach that unfortunately is no longer
common within many organizations. For example: we come to realize that quite
common organizational tools such as metrics (quantitative data, statistical
analysis etc.) and smart technologies such as Information Technology tools and
softwares, if not managed with proper awareness, can actually weaken our ability
to make sound and effective decisions. Also we are brought to reflect upon the
actual utility of procedures counterbalanced by the drawbacks of their frequent
non proper use (and how to avoid it). We also come to understand what makes a
person expert in a specific field and what are the best ways to effectively
utilize this expertise to satisfy the problem solving issues we are dealing with.
And so on, focusing on many day to day operational and strategic organizational
Human Capital factor...
my opinion, overall, the big plus of this book consist in outlining some key
aspects of the Human Capital’s potential in a clear, straightforward,
rationally sound and engaging way. In fact, the tools presented by Klein make us
realize how it is possible to turn into “hard”
many of the “soft skills” we often find ourselves talking about. There is a
lot we still need to learn about ourselves and we can learn it most by realizing
that, as Klein states, “we don’t always know what we know”. Intuition is a
case in point of this!
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