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In defence of intuition

Intuition has historically been a decision-maker’s best friend in business and sport. Then data came along and the value of intuition seemingly diminished – an objective challenger to the notion that we’re capable of understanding something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning or numbers.

The commonly held assumption that intuition is nothing more than pure guesswork perpetuates such belief, when in fact intuition is about feeling, sensing and pattern matching based on past experience. The distinction is important.

It’s true that snap judgments owing to heuristics can represent a huge blind spot in any decision-making process, but invariably intuition leads us to ask the right questions or, contrariwise, provide context to our data.

Real life example: Gary Neville sensed that – despite 9 games without a win in La Liga – Valencia’s underlying performance was actually ok. He was right: according to 21st Club’s performance model, Valencia actually ‘deserved’ 13 points during this winless period, despite only securing 5. Their form has since turned around – indeed Neville has openly admitted when poor performances has produced a good result.

Intuition is good. Even better if it’s challenged by (or supplemented with) smart data.

About Blake Wooster

Blake Wooster has created 61 entries.