Research versus Intuition in Innovation Decisions

An organization’s values are the criteria by which employees make prioritization decisions – by which they judge whether an order is attractive or unattractive, whether a customer is more important or less important, whether an idea for a new product is attractive or marginal, and so on (Hesselbein, Goldsmith, & Somerville, 2002).  Optimal operational capacity, thematic emphasis along four planes of strategic capability, and environmentally driven responses using aligned business units are all effective methods with which to assess what work should be performed in the predictable future.

Yet not all questions require analytical responses, nor do all aspects of an organization’s strategy require maps and process diagramming.  There are decisions to be made that reside in the intuitive ‘gut’ level as well.  To fully appreciate the efficacy of making these intuitive decisions requires a minimalistic approach toward emphasizing a preexisting condition within the organization.  The values of a company can guide a multitude of questions that are otherwise regarded as either technical or complex decisions to make.  An organization’s values may begin as expressed mantras, yet ultimately become an intrinsic part of what the organization has evolved to become.  It is these values that can give the members of an organization a window into what can be done, and ultimately resolved, at the intuitive level.

The values of successful firms tend to evolve in a predictable fashion on at least two dimensions (Hesselbein, Goldsmith, & Somerville, 2002).  It is with this initial emphasis on the organization’s values that one can then begin to predict which decisions require a process driven approach utilizing research along thematic lines, and which decisions can be intuitively deduced via a simple reminder of what the organization’s values are.  Yet whether an intuitive or thematic route, a clear starting point of assessing the market environment – and acknowledging reaction to it is key – becomes the successful linchpin of effective strategic decisions.  As Biscaccianti, Esposito, & Williams (2011) remark, “Values determine the definition of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.  Values are closely related to the ideals people share and serve as a moral benchmark against which aspirations and behaviors are judged” (p. 45).

– Justin

Biscaccianti, A., Esposito, M., & Williams, L.C. (2011). The M3C model of cooperative contextual change. Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing & Enterprises.

Hesselbein, F., Goldsmith, M., & Somerville, I. (2002). Leading for innovation: And organizing results. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


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