Follow your gut feeling. Listen to your intuition. “Use the force, Luke.” In many walks of life, we’re encouraged to trust that little voice inside that tells us when something feels right or wrong but when it comes to business, intuition is often viewed with the wariness reserved for overly nice people and snakes. The trouble with intuitions is that they’re slippery customers. They’re difficult to quantify and hard to pin down, which makes justifying them a formidable task. And presenting a plan based on someone’s business intuition to a boardroom of high-level execs? Well, you’d better be a good showman because that is one tough crowd. Where are the all-important actionable insights? What about the hard evidence that looks good for the bottom line?

It would seem there’s little place for intuition in business. We don’t automatically associate words such as ‘feeling’ and ‘emotion’ with the corporate sphere. We’re happier with KPIs and words and terms such as ‘fact’ and ‘track record’. Well, some of us are. Branson and Buffet are both famous for their business intuition. As is Queen’s lead guitarist.

“I never took sheet music seriously. I could do better myself just by listening to other people and using my own intuition” - Brian May

Mr May’s current net worth is estimated at around $175million so I think it’s safe to say his outlook has served him pretty well so far.

I’m not suggesting for a second that allowing collective business intuition to reign over knowledge, insights and hard evidence is a good idea, rather that all attributes should get a seat at the table. That’s difficult to achieve if you’ve got a room full of people, some of whom will be desperate to have their say and others who may be too reluctant to speak up.

The trick is to know when to let intuition come into play.

Author Shelley Row had this to say on the importance of business intuition in decision-making in a recent Forbes article:

“There are two types of decisions that are not dependent on intuition. One type are decisions where the data is known and options can be calculated or estimated. The other are decisions with a long track record of experience behind them; however, if the future is different from the past, even this type of decision may require more than just experience and fact. Intuition plays an essential role for decision-making in rapidly changing environments; if there are contradictions in the data; ambiguity due to lack of data; or decisions that center on people (hiring, firing, or political decisions). Ironically, the fact is that for some decisions, data alone isn’t enough.”

Tapping into collective business intuition and turning it into sound decisions means collecting the thoughts, opinions, feelings, knowledge, findings, and experience of your employees or colleagues. You can do all that easily and quickly using Sharp Surveys. A user-friendly tool that collects data, records it and presents you with conclusions and insights on your phone in seconds is a godsend in a world of rapidly-changing and emerging industries. Making a sound decision quickly means analysing data from all sources, that’s a given. But decision-making is often blighted by incomplete, competing or ambiguous data, insufficient time or simply too many available options. In those situations, the wisdom to follow intuition is often what makes a great leader.

“Often you have to rely on intuition” – Bill Gates.

As all your data—feelings and facts—is recorded and clearly presented, you can tap into collective business intuition and use it with greater confidence. If things do go wrong you don’t have to rely on your own memory to explain why, but can look back at the Sharp Surveys data to try to see what happened and use those insights to turn a negative outcome into a more positive learning experience. Because all the conclusions and insights from the data are clearly presented, it’s easier to identify where and why intuition is helpful as well as flagging up the times when we should ignore it in favour of the evidence. You’ll have the best of both worlds: the ability to bring best practice to the fore without dulling your gut feeling about the right decision.

You’ll be able to clearly demonstrate that your decision-making is effective and based on more than a whim. Sharp Surveys is that rare thing: a business tool that turns intuition and opinions into meaningful, analytical and actionable data.