With the tsunami of data that business leaders have available, many find themselves trying to strike a delicate balance between acting on what the spreadsheet reveals and what their instincts are telling them.
If you’re a seasoned leader who is accustomed to relying on your gut, you are not alone.
In a 2014 PwC survey, only about 30 percent of executives reported relying first and foremost on data for their most recent big business decision.
However, according to an Accenture survey in the same year, 89 percent of executives polled rated big data as “very important” or “extremely important” to the digital transformation of their businesses.
For graduates of business analytics programs, the best result of the Accenture report is likely the fact that 91 percent of the companies surveyed had plans to increase their data expertise in the very near future.
The dichotomy between the two reports highlights the fact that both instinct and data are essential to making good business decisions and that the key is learning to nurture them both.
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With the increasing emphasis on data-based decision-making, many wonder if the role of instinct is becoming extinct in the business world. Sri Sharma, founder and managing director of the award-winning digital advertising agency Net Media Planet, told the Guardian that it’s not: "I think of your instinct, your gut feeling, as a personal radar that is built up over the years. Often the data you analyze confirms the instinct of your personal radar, but it can't replace it. Instinct is vital."
In a piece for Fast Company, serial entrepreneur Faisal Hoque, author of "Everything Connects," contends that intuition is as important as ever but leaders need to hone their abilities to balance it with a quantifiable approach: “Success comes from connecting the dots between our emotional selves and systematic thinking that can be checked quantitatively.