What’s Better? Data-driven Decision Making or Intuition?

When it comes to decision-making, there are two leading schools of thought. Some people believe in “trusting their gut,” following their intuition when faced with opposing facts. Others think that “numbers never lie,” prioritizing factual data and logical analysis when weighing both sides. Is data-driven decision-making or intuition more reliable? A cairn with balancing rocks that signifies weighing data-driven decision making vs. intuition

Intuition vs. Analysis

Is there a better time to trust intuitive decision-making over data? It depends on the type of decision you’re trying to make. For example, certain kinds of decisions require complex data to make the right choice, such as whether to expand or discontinue a product line. Others, however, are less clear, such as whether a job candidate would be a good fit with your team. 

Although data should certainly be consulted whenever possible, you should never ignore your gut feeling. It’s not a matter of choosing between data-driven decision-making or intuition—ideally, you’ll use both in tandem to make the best choices for your business. 

There are many situations in which data alone can’t or won’t give you the whole picture. The data may show that underhanded sales techniques get better results, for instance, but if your instinct tells you that’s wrong for your business, you should listen. Business leaders need to rely on their intuition to make decisions when data isn’t enough. 

However, if you’re not used to trusting your intuition, this may seem like a foreign concept. Many people tend to undervalue their gut feelings. Fortunately, there are ways to develop your intuitive decision-making skills. 

How to Develop Your Intuition

First, it’s essential to know what your intuition is. When you’re deciding between data-driven decision-making or intuition, the impulse in question is not just a passing whim. Your subconscious is constantly making connections and analyzing patterns that you’re not aware of, so when you do have a nagging feeling about a potential outcome, it’s far from baseless. 

However, when weighing data-driven decision-making or intuition, know that cognitive bias can also creep in at the same stage as intuition. You need to be in tune with any potential unconscious biases to distinguish between that and your gut instinct. 

Next, think about times in your life when you had a gut feeling that turned out to be correct. What did that intuition make you feel? How was it different from fear, anxiety, or other intuitive feelings that you’ve had? Learning what your intuition feels like will help you know when you have a true gut feeling about a particular problem. 

Finally, know that sometimes your intuition won’t make logical sense, and it might seem crazy to anyone else. Sometimes it will be better to listen to others, but sometimes you have to be true to yourself. Only you can make the final call on whether your instinct is worth following. 

Learning when to use data-driven decision-making or intuition is a powerful skill for business leaders to develop. A business coach can help. Fill out my contact form to schedule a complimentary coaching session with me, and we can discuss whether it’s better to trust your instincts or data.

Coach Dave


Dave Schoenbeck
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