I was watching Mae Jemison’s TED talk today about the connection between science and art. In this interesting talk she explains why she thinks the perception of many people that science is analytical while art is intuitive is wrong. Actually, she claims, they are both a manifestation of the same idea. You can find analytical thinking in art and you can find intuitiveness in science.
That made me think. This debate is relevant to business as well. How should businesses be run? According to intuition or analysis? The answer, of course, is both.
In the last few weeks I have been preparing for interviews with management consulting firms. One thing you understand when you practice solving business cases and reading about how these firms operate, is that there is a tremendous importance to analysis. You are expected to be structured in the way you approach each problem, you are expected to think about all the problems while at the same time paying attention to the little details. But at the same time you see how important intuition in their work and thinking process is. You are also expected to hypothesize and prioritize. Go with your basic logic, gut feeling and intuition.
I heard many people in the past say: “I am a numbers guy” or “I am a big picture – go with my gut – kind of guy”. Hell, I said it myself a few times. And I think knowing what you are is an important part of success. At the same time, it is also important to understand that the fact that you have a certain point of view, a bias if you will, does not make the other way wrong. It means that we should actively try to seek out the other way.
It seems to me that success, in art, science or business, comes from integrating intuition and analysis. That is one of the reasons diverse teams have trouble working in the short term (they speak different languages – one of intuition while the other analysis) but in the long term, they tend to outperform homogeneous teams (which do not take the full picture).
Thus, if we are unable to use both (and most people will struggle doing it consistently) we need to complete our own biased point of view, with the opposite point of view. Or just remind ourselves to re-check the other point of view every once in a while.
So, how do you integrate both intuition and analysis in your everyday work?