Data vs gut: the great decision making debate

Written by David Waller Tuesday 19 September 2023
The idea of instinctual management is an attractive one. But as the world becomes more data-driven, which should you be prioritising when making decisions?
Cartoon of man deciding between pressing two different buttons

Right now, millions of devices are out in the world, busily harvesting information, with the  promise it will help people make better decisions – about everything from our diet and exercise to our household bills. Arm, the Cambridge-based tech company that launched a successful IPO on NASDAQ earlier this month, is responsible for putting hundreds of billions of processors into these data-gathering smartphones, wearables and thermostats. Yet, when The Verge asked Arm’s CEO, Rene Haas, about how he makes his business decisions, he cited a very different type of intelligence.

“The more experienced I get, the more I rely on intuition,” he said. 

“The more white you get in your beard and your hair, the more comfortable you get with opinion-based decisions,” Haas explained. “Pattern matching starts to come into play. History repeats itself because humans repeat themselves. We are humans, and humans make the same successes and mistakes.” 

Management history repeats itself too, and Haas is apparently not the only leader to use his gut as mission control for major decisions. Business lore is replete with legends of great, instinctive leaders. Whether it’s Henry Ford or Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, George Soros or Oracle’s Safra Catz all have been celebrated for following their nose on major calls, sometimes even while those around them said they were mad to do so.

Want to learn more about whether you should follow your instinct or data when decision making?


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