MindfulnessIntuition is also related to the patterns formed in the brain – whilst we may not be able to recall the exact detail of a pattern, we can recall our ‘interpretation’ or ‘attitude’ towards the pattern and transfer these same emotions to future patterns we deem to be similar.

This is largely a subconscious, rather than conscious process. It is also the basis of many poorly formed decisions of today.

To gain a realistic perspective of how we use intuition, we need to look at it in various contexts: in decision making, in creativity, during innovation, when engaged in logic-based tasks, during brain storming, and in conjunction with business intelligence.

Decision Making

In the past, the business environment changed at such a pace that intuition was more likely to still apply to the current decision, in other words it was regarded as a relatively appropriate way of evaluating a situation and reaching a conclusion. However, today, the pace of business change and the complexity of the business environment means that in almost ALL situations, the context in which the previous pattern was evaluated is NOT appropriate today. This means that intuition alone is not a reliable basis upon which to base a decision.

This change in business environment has come about so rapidly that many senior managers and executives who have successfully employed intuition in the past are resistant to the suggestion that in most situations intuition no longer applies, and are reluctant to resist from employing the practice as a decision making tool today.


Whilst the original patterns may be combined or extended, the brain does not readily restructure them. Insight and humour both require restructuring of patterns – and as such an individuals insightfulness or sense of humour largely depends upon how rigid their minds are in controlling existing patterns.

Creativity also requires more of a letting go of the old pattern, rather than a restructuring. If we hold on to past patterns, we restrict our ability to relate to new patterns.


Lateral thinking is concerned with the generation of new ideas – which in turn act as catalysts for change and progress in every part of life – relationships, personal growth, business, science and politics. It requires us to let go of the constraints of old ideas. For more on innovation.


The other problem with preset patterns is that we tend to make assumptions based on our previous experience with the pattern and jump to illogical conclusions.


This is the basis of the process of brainstorming. The first session is purely generative, with no judgment or evaluation of ideas proposed. The subsequent sessions start evaluating the ideas in terms of the final desired goal and other resources and knowledge available.

Business Intelligence

Business intelligence is designed to detect patterns from vast volumes of information that relate to business today. These patterns are purely objective and free from human bias and interpretation, making them a more reliable basis of decision making.

Using analytical and modeling tools we can build scenarios by extending the patterns into various contexts to gain insight into the outcome of various business interventions. Such tools apply the knowledge of the past to the logic of the present and future. They are capable of filtering data for relevance at a speed far beyond that of the human brain. This speed is not so much in terms of processing capability – but in terms of handling the complexity of multiple dimensions [considerations] which must be applied to the information.

Humans no longer have a workable capability to identify all relevant information and to analyse it to identify key patterns. What we do retain, is the selective ability to determine action to be taken based on the outcomes of the BI tools.

In certain instances, decisions that are regularly repeated with limited outcome options can be automated, as in Operational BI. You can guess that the 80:20 rules applies here in operations such as supply chain – where decisions are highly driven by quantitative data.

However, there will always be the 20 percent that require more complex consideration, where cognitive elements cannot be reduced to a mathematical function. This is where emotional intelligence helps considerably, in helping decision makers be more aware of any subconscious biases they have. Once you are aware of your biases, you can run decisions through a quick mental checklist to ensure that your decisions are as objective as possible.

Emotionally-driven decisions are messy – even with all the data, and all the self-awareness, we can still struggle to accept a final decision and/or outcome. This is where real leaders are made!