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

By August 12, 2021 March 6th, 2024 Business Strategy Articles

Last Updated on March 6, 2024 by Dave Schoenbeck

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. So 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 decisions require complex data to make the right choice, such as expanding or discontinuing a product line. Others, however, are less clear, such as whether a job candidate would fit your team well. 

Although data should 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 to make the best choices for your business. 

There are many situations where data alone can’t give you the whole picture. For example, the data may show that underhanded sales techniques get better results, but you should listen if your instinct tells you that’s wrong for your business. Likewise, business leaders need to rely on intuition to make decisions when data isn’t enough. 

However, this may seem foreign if you’re not used to trusting your intuition. 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. The impulse is not just a passing whim when deciding between data-driven decision-making or intuition. Your subconscious constantly makes connections and analyzes patterns you’re unaware of, so it’s far from baseless when you have a nagging feeling about a potential outcome. 

However, when weighing data-driven decision-making or intuition, know that cognitive bias can creep in at the same stage as intuition. So it would be best if you were in tune with any potential unconscious biases to distinguish between that and your gut instinct. 

Next, think about times 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 must 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


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