Saturday, November 18, 2017

Intuitive Decision-Making

By Vicki L. Sauter

Summary and Critique by: Jared Leets
The author begins by explaining some of the mainstream types of decision-making styles which include: left brain, right brain, and others as well. The left brain style tends to prefer working with variables which can be controlled, measured, or quantified when information is accessible. The other side, the right brain style, uses intuitive techniques typically placing a tremendous amount of importance on feelings rather than facts. These decision-makers usually employ spontaneous procedures when considering something. Common examples of this style include brainstorming and emergent trend projections. While the left brain style decides on developing solution methodologies, having an orderly method of searching for information, and aiming for predictability. The right brain style completely avoids any one strategy at all. The decision-maker acts without stating any procedures, tends to experiment with uncertainty to develop an understanding of what is the requirement, and will usually think of all possibilities simultaneously, while remembering the main problem at hand. The author states that problems with this are that there is no data-tested theories and a methodology that cannot be tested or replicated at all.

Intuition can be developed through experience, for example a decision-maker or manager can acquire expertise in a subject from internalizing events and then make them automatic (Sauter 1999). The decision-maker can develop approaches to problem-solving that facilitates the collection of information, and can look for ways to connect information in ambiguous ways. This in return can trigger intuitive approaches that have not been seen or used from the decision-maker’s past. However, there are negatives as well. Managers and decision-makers employing intuition can become impatient with routine, details, or repetition which can make them seek conclusions too fast and disregard important information. But if these types of intuitive decision-makers realize this they can overcome it. What they must do is evaluate all intuitively acquired information with analytic examinations and look at all facets of it while eliminating bias. They must completely eliminate confirmation bias, since most decision-makers attempt to confirm their beliefs and causation and probability must be reviewed and examined thoroughly.

Towards the end of the article, the author states that a decision-maker must know not only
what the best way to solve the problem is regarding the data but also why and how, simply providing an answer is not enough. Inductive technology tools can help decision-makers test assumptions such as statistical cluster analysis. The author concludes that intuition is becoming increasingly important for decision-makers, and that they will need decision-making system tools to help them with incorporating intuition.

I thought this article explained intuition being used, with decision-makers and the different styles used, fairly well. The author explained the difference between left and right brain styles of decision-making and gave examples as well. She also described intuitive decision-making and gave the pros and cons for both sides. Overall it presented its argument for intuition well and also provided contrary information to help see how intuition can fail but also how it can help and improve when combining it with left brain decision-making techniques.

Sauter, V. L. (1999). Intuitive decision-making. Communications of the ACM, 42(6), 109-115.


  1. I found it interesting that the author brought up decision-making styles in accordance with the brain. Where the left side of the brain is in charge of rational thought like thinking things through, making decisions and calculating, while the right side of the brain is the location of “creative” and “emotional” thought. Additionally, the author explains for decision makers to make decisions intuitively, the decision-maker acts without any procedure and experiments in order to understand the requirement at hand. However the author does not see explain the mere use of intuition is not a solution for the speed-accuracy trade-off, since its use may simply facilitate speed at the expense of accuracy. From a managerial perspective, the speed of intuiting is not only taken for granted but is often seen as a primary motivator for developing and employing intuition at work. In the end, the distinctive earmarks of intuition are a creative rapid response to the requirement and the inability to report a sequence of steps leading to the result.

  2. I find the article interesting especially with the left and right brain functions and how they apply to intuition. It'll be interesting to see a study on how much more intuition fails in comparison to other methods of decision-making especially in a situation where the decision-maker has tremendous amount of experience.

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