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'The intuitive mind is a sacred gift’ - Albert Einstein

A theme that kept cropping up at our inaugural Strat Fest event last week is the importance of using your intuition in business. We thought we’d delve into this a little deeper, look at a couple of examples and share our own experiences of one rather tough business built on intuition…

Intuition goes hand in hand with innovation as it allows those that possess this rather special skill to see ahead of the curve, without having to wade through spreadsheets and data. There are some great examples of where these intuitive skills have been put into practice - one particular advocate was Steve Jobs, who believed intuition to be “more powerful than intellect.” With this in mind Jobs released the iPad without there being any market demand for such a product and against a barrage of industry criticism. But by sticking to his guns Jobs developed a roaring success which has led to masses of copycat handheld devices.

There’s also been lots of research into the matter of intuition, which has led managers to feel increasingly confident that when faced with complicated choices they can trust their gut. This was clear in a survey conducted in May 2002 by executive search firm Christian & Timbers which revealed that 45% of corporate executives now rely more on instinct than on facts and figures.

13 years later, this link between intuition and business is more important to understand than ever before, due to the sheer increase in the speed at which business transforms as well as the amount of information we process. In a recent UCLA study, it was revealed that we process over 174 newspapers worth of information daily - an incredible five times more data than we were receiving 20 years ago.

This is extremely important as when paired with insightful data, using intuition can have a huge impact on growth, and according to Gartner, 73% of organizations are investing or planning to invest in big data in the next two years. Unfortunately, many business leaders still hesitate to embrace big data and depend on intuition alone to make key business decisions. But while these companies deliberate their competitors could be in the group that’s embracing big data whole heartedly.

There’s some great examples of projects where projects have been the concept of intuition and have come into fruition thanks to Big Data. Google’s self-driving car, for example, is described by its leaders as a big data project, but project leader Sebastian Thrun, had an intuition that self-driving cars were possible well before all the necessary data, maps, and infrastructure were available. He famously said in an interview that he formed a team to address the problem at Stanford without really knowing what he was doing.

A project that’s live today is LinkedIn’s People You May Know (PYMK) feature, one of their most successful data products. The software was developed by Jonathan Goldman was based on an intuition that people would be interested in what their former classmates and colleagues are up to.

Another great example of a business built upon a flash of inspiration (and one that Freshminds has embraced whole heartedly) is Tough Mudder. By challenging norms about the business world, and ignoring the advice of his Harvard Business School Professors to “take that job at Bain" founder Will Dean built Tough Mudder into a $70 million company in just two years.

Looking for some consulting skill set stars to join your team? Drop us an email or give us a call on 020 7692 4300. In the meantime have a Friday chuckle at the Freshminds Tough Mudder team…