#270 from Innovative
Leader Volume 6, Number 4
Frantz, professor of economics at San Diego State University, is
Director of the annual INTUITION 2000 Conference. He is co-editor
of Intuition at Work:
Pathways to Unlimited Possibilities (New Leaders Press,
San Francisco, CA, 1997). He
can be contacted at 619-594-3718, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do Chrysler
chairman Robert Eaton and Albert Einstein have in common? They both found value in using their intuition!
The cover of a recent issue of Forbes
read, “Company of the Year.
Eaton stated, “We’ve...put so much faith in analysis
and quantification and other areas of left-brain thinking, we’ve
often missed the forest for all the well-examined trees. Over the past few year’s I’ve been on sort of a personal
crusade at Chrysler to legitimize what, for lack of a better term,
I refer to as right-brain thinking.”
understanding of the laws of physics was enhanced from his own
intuitive practices of creative visualization.
Einstein concluded that there’s "no logical path
leading to these laws. They can be reached only by intuition, and this intuition
is based on an intellectual love of the objects of
is an example of many scientists who “know” the answer before
they can prove it, and do their research according to the saying,
“ready, fire, aim.” Or,
as Jonas Salk remarked, “Let intuition be your guide, with
reason at your side.”
people in business also appreciate and practice using their
intuition. A recent
book by Jadish Parikh, Intuition:
The New Frontier in Management (Blackwell, London, 1994),
reported the results of a survey of 1312 managers in 9 countries. Almost 80% admitted to using intuition and believe that it
contributes to corporate success. More
than 70% believe that intuition also is important to R&D
listed several definitions of intuition.
The most common were: non-logical thinking, decisions
without reason, decisions based on few clues or data points, a
feeling from within, subconscious analysis derived from
information stored in memory, a gut feeling, a sixth sense, and
spontaneous knowing. Almost 60% believe that intuition can be
enhanced. I believe
that intuitive abilities can be enhanced in everyone.
It seems that
intuition emerges from the sub-conscious.
A successful CEO correctly analyzes a situation faster than
a top MBA student. The
CEO draws upon a wealth of information stored in the memories.
The brain gathers information stored in memory and
“packages” it as a new insight or solution.
The successful CEO only experiences
the intuition; the work
is done in the subconscious.
grandmaster holds in memory the significance of between 50,000 and
250,000 patterns of chess pieces.
Grandmasters don’t play by thinking analytically or
logically; they play chess intuitively. They rely on the very
rapid, pattern-recognition abilities of their subconscious.
This is also how zoologists identify thousands of different
insects, how botanists identify thousands of flowers, and what
doctors refer to as “clinical judgment.”
intuitions as images, hunches and feelings.
They occur while we’re awake or sleeping (dreams).
Intuitions can also be incorrect. Intuitions are stored information packaged in a new way.
So, if the information being packaged is faulty, then so
will the intuition. Intuitions
of an expert chemist about chemistry are going to be more reliable
than intuitions about chemistry from an economist.
images received from the brain.
Trust that you have a reservoir of creative problem-solving
capabilities which your memory and subconscious are guarding, and
which your brain can deliver to your conscious mind. Max Planck,
whose research led to quantum mechanics, believed that a “vivid
intuitive imagination,” along with analytical skills is the
source of creativity and advances in human knowledge. Isadora Duncan, one of the great dancers of the 20th century,
once remarked about the logical aspect of dancing, “If I could
tell you what it is, I would not have danced it.”
OK, dancing is
not the same as business leadership or research.
But they’re not completely dissimilar either; both lead
to the creation of something new, and both rely on the ability of
people to transcend the known for the unknown. Duncan,
Planck, Einstein and Eaton suggest that (analytical) training and
intuition, working together, is a formula for success.
But more important, they knew/know that their lives contain
both analytical and intuitive components.
you’ve been giving your intuition the input it requires—facts
and data. And, you’ll continue to do so.
Now that your “intuition computer” has inputs, turn it
on, and let it do its thing.
How can you turn it on?
Excuse me for saying this, but—get out of the way!
Let your subconscious thinking use what you’ve given it.
Melvin Calvin won
the Nobel Prize for chemistry. The final piece of the puzzle came
while Calvin was sitting in his car waiting for his wife.
His research took years in the lab and one moment while
sitting in his car! This out-of-the-blue illumination is known as
the Eureka experience. There’s
an old Buddhist saying, “Do nothing and everything will be
other words, let the data and the analysis sink-in; relax and let
the subconscious intuitive process do its part.
Phil Lipetz, a
molecular biologist and venture capitalist, while meditating,
“saw” how DNA is related to both cancer and aging.
Michael Munn was a scientist for Lockheed, meditating in
his car during lunch, when he “saw” a better way to shoot down
missiles. Both of
their intuitions proved correct in the lab.
Maya Angelou prepares to write a book by sitting in a bare
room and playing solitaire. At
the same time, she’s allowing her “large” mind the freedom
to percolate, to do its thing.
And when she begins writing, she writes about whatever
comes to mind, in whatever sequence, regardless of topic.
She simply allows the process of writing to occur, and
holds to the belief that writing itself is good because, “it’s as if the muse is convinced that
I’m serious and says, ‘OK. OK, I’ll come.’”
experiment to discover conditions where and when your intuition is
most activated. Intuition
is an art-form, and that’s why you need to experiment.
We’re all different, and the conditions under which our
intuitions are activated will differ among us.
Are your intuitions more accurate in the morning, afternoon
or evening; on any particular day(s) of the week; during any
particular type of activity?
Does reading best activate your intuition, or is it music,
walking, dancing, exercise or sleep?
Make a note of your intuitions, including when and where
you were and what you were doing when they occurred.
If listening to music in your living room on Saturday
morning seems to trigger your best intuitions, then for some
reason, that time and day, and that activity is best.
are most likely associated with a sense of “Aha!” a sense of
wonder, or immediate discovery.
Things fall into place and you now have the bigger picture.
Who knows, you may even feel like jumping up and shouting,
Just as your
intuition needs data and facts to work with, so does it require
images to convey itself. You
provide the images. Here
are a couple of many possible ways to activate your intuition.
# 1. Think of a situation
you are grappling with. It
could be which project receives more resources, or which person to
promote, or which plan to follow.
Define the situation clearly and be specific; avoid
questions with multiple parts. Think of two or
three possible solutions. Then,
• take a deep breath and close your eyes
• relax for a few moments (any way you know how)
• repeat the first solution to yourself and, as you do,
visualize a door with the number 1 on it
• approach the door and open it
• be aware of the images and feelings of opening the door and
• then, repeat this process for each of the other solutions
• afterwards, make notes on the experiences surrounding each
door, and the solution you “feel” will be the best one
If you prefer,
let each solution be represented by a jacket, a pair of shoes, a
bowl of soup, a walking path, a ride on a horse, to name just a
few. This isn’t
children’s play—it’s a way for your intuition to communicate
with you. If you
choose to work with jackets, then as you think of the first
solution you will find yourself wearing a jacket.
How does it fit? How
does it feel? Then think of the second solution and you’ll be wearing a
different jacket. The time you spend with each door (jacket, etc.)
should not exceed 30 - 45 seconds.
# 2. To tap into a
group’s intuitive wisdom, you can modify the previous exercise.
Allow the group to define both the issue and the possible
member practices the exercise independently and simultaneously,
and each reports the findings.
Don’t be surprised if there’s a high degree of
#3. It’s not
necessary to specify possible solutions for this exercise.
State the problem to yourself.
• take a deep breath and close your eyes
• relax for a few moments, then
• mentally state the question—without analyzing it
• open your eyes and allow them to settle on the first object
you see (to avoid analyzing)
• ask yourself what this object tells you about the problem
• when finished, make notes that will help you solve the
analyzing or evaluating intuitions while
you’re doing an exercise, like the ones above, will nullify
your intuitions. Asking
yourself whether or not the image or answer makes “sense” or
is the “right” answer takes you out of your intuitive mode
immediately. You must allow the intuition complete freedom to come
that happens after you judge, analyze, evaluate or block an
intuition is coming from the logical, analytical mind.
Leave your analysis and interpretation for afterwards.
The good news is that
you know what analyzing is about.
You know what it “feels” like. So, when you find
yourself analyzing—stop. Stop making sense! At
least for a few moments.