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33 guidelines for developing intuition in business

Remove, expand and disconnect. These three activities summarize very well the skills to be put into practice when developing intuition in business practice. To carry them out with good results, we propose 33 guidelines.


1. Self-evaluate

Mental biases, prejudices, cultural and educational frameworks are fundamental when making a decision, because they condition the way in which we gather information or because they lead us to erroneous conclusions. Therefore, knowing our limitations is fundamental and this self-analysis must also include the identification and interpretation of our emotions, to differentiate which part of the sensation we notice corresponds to an emotion or an intuitive alarm signal. “Your intuition can tell you conflicting things, it’s not always clear and there’s a lot of gray. This is the reason why it is important to improve your self-awareness, to listen and better understand our instincts and intuitions “, confirms Stuart Jones, founder of Coworkation.”Three years ago we had a party in Singapore. It was the most direct and safe way we had to enter Asia. The company that was going to manage the business seemed serious to us and they had the recommendation of a good friend. But it was a resounding failure and our passage through Singapore lasted less than a year. I let myself be carried more by the desire than by intuition, “recalls Fagundo. It is important to be aware of the actual capabilities of the organization before making any decisions.

2. Value the experience

As Pedro Subijana, owner and chef of Akelarre, insists , “intuition without experience is nothing short of a miracle. There are some people who may have an innate ability to see beyond without experience. But they are the exception that confirms the rule. “For Olivé, “intuition is like the sum of previous experience in management, previous experience in the right and wrong decisions and the analysis of the environment.” Something that coincides Rodrigo Del Prado, co-founder and deputy director of BQ: “The more experience you have, the easier it will be to see things intuitively”. Alberto Alcocer,Director of SocieTIC Business Online, is clear: “Experience is the greatest endorsement for intuition because past experiences allow you to see things from another perspective. A year ago we launched two new services in the company. The experience made us see the market niche and intuition supported when defining the specific product. In the end it was a success. “For Meinrad Spenger, CEO and founder of Masmóvil Group, the best way to develop intuition is” with a lot of knowledge about the sector, experience, good communication and, above all, self-confidence and your team”.

3. Eliminate overconfidence

Trust yes, but with moderation, because there is no greater danger to intuition than overconfidence. “Our biggest mistake was launching the second line of business, Eventbis, aimed at small events. We thought that we would be able to take advantage of many synergies and grow very fast and it was a mistake that cost us a lot of resources. Our intuition failed us because we let ourselves be carried away by the excess of confidence of how well we had gone before, “recalls Michelena. Something that also happened to Clemente Cebrián, co-founder of El Ganso, for whom “intuition is a mixture of believing in the project at a specific moment with the people who develop it, but it fails when you rely 100% on it. It happened to us, when we let ourselves be guided by intuition with an agent in France and we got confused … ” Sergio Bernués, SME Marketing CEO, also sees it this way:” In practice, intuition is more important than that we think because it allows us to respond quickly to certain events, but there are times when it is overvalued and leads us to make wrong decisions due to the lack of prior reflection. “So make sure you gather and analyze all the necessary information before following the intuition.

4. Assume the error

Sometimes behind a bad decision can hide the inability to accept the error that prevents us from listening to intuition, as happened to Olivé: “On one occasion I got involved in a company that was launching a friend of mine because he believed in the person. The facts showed that one thing was personal and another thing work, but for two years I continued to support him despite the results. What went wrong? Do not accept a defeat: you have to fight when you launch a business, but you have to assume when you’re wrong. “For Seb Chartier, CEO of CreaVenture and founder of Salón MiEmpresa, “overcoming the fear of failure is perhaps one of the factors that could improve the effectiveness of making these intuitive decisions. The more willing we are to leave our comfort zone, the more likely we are to let go of our spirit and be able to be more intuitive. “An appreciation that is extendable to companies.”In big organizations the mistake is much penalized and for this reason it is very difficult to make intuitive decisions. On the other hand, by not innovating you can keep yourself at work and even progress, “Olivé criticizes.

5. Make a careful check list

One of the biggest obstacles for intuitive decision to be effective can come from the call of the preconceived theory: if I have decided in advance that I want to invest in this project, that I want to ally with this entrepreneur or that the acquisition of that subsidiary is going to be fundamental for my growth, all the information that it collects will be biased and directed to demonstrate that my decision is the correct one. But it will not be intuitively or analytically correct. As Miguel Ángel Gil points out, CEO of Open Car, “if we want to convince ourselves that our intuition is correct, we will always achieve it but it does not mean that it is. When we do not complement it with a much more exhaustive and, above all, objective analysis of reality, it will lose effectiveness “. To combat it, you must ensure that you have been objective when collecting the necessary information. The Nobel Daniel Kahneman proposes to make a checklist before making a decision and ask the following questions about the collected data: Is it independent and quality information? Does it come from several sources or from one? Can it be influenced by relevant people in my environment?…

6. Put yourself in the worst scenario

Risk aversion is one of the strongest brakes to intuition. Our brain activates 24 more areas in the face of an uncertain outcome decision than in the face of a negative outcome decision, which will push us to stay as we are, even if the unknown is better. If we join the framework bias, that is, the overconservation of our brain when decisions are made in terms of profits, the conflict is served. How Arantza M. Huarte laments, general director of Miramami, “many times we do not let intuition condition us out of fear. Fear can stop and force you to stop making decisions that we felt could work. ” “You have to understand that there is always a risk and assume it. To intuit that you are going to make mistakes and make mistakes is also part of the learning process, “recalls Spenger. To combat it, consider the decision in terms of losses and known risk, so that your brain does not get nervous. That is, “if I adopt this decision, the worst scenario is this” or “if I do not make this decision, the results will fall, I will lose productivity…” Decision maker Gary KleinIt proposes the pre-mortem strategy: “When a project goes wrong, it is analyzed as if it were an autopsy, postmortem. I propose to imagine that you have a crystal ball and that you see that the project has failed, take two minutes to see why. “In this way you can anticipate possible negative scenarios.

7. Establish emotional short circuits

Intuition needs the calm to make the right decision. As Xavier Gabriel explains , “intuition will always be wrong if you precipitate the decision or when you are experiencing moments of weakness, where adversities flow alone, or at times too euphoric.” To combat this brake, consider a short, uncircuitbreak, to regain control of your emotions. Count to ten before moving forward with a decision and if, at the end of the countdown, you still consider it the same, take the step.

9. Make a double argument

The need to rationalize and verbally explain all decisions can make us abandon very valid intuitions simply because they manifest themselves inaccurately. “Intuition is information that we have and that we often ignore because we have not extracted it from a reasoning process as we are used to,” says Spenger… To combat this brake is important to get used to see the opposite side of things, make a double list of arguments for and against, because this strategy helps to focus the mind, to see all sides of a problem, allowing a decision to be made more successful “When we study the product launches, I put half of the department to look for the arguments in favor and the other half to look for the arguments against and, with the information of the two parties, I make the decision that the stomach asks me, but before I could analyze all the angles of the problem”, explains Ruiz de Arriaga .

10. Jaléate

It is very important to speak well, positively rewrite the scripts with which you speak to yourself and to those you speak to your people. Only then can you stimulate your positive and intuitive part and the positive and intuitive part of your team. It is a little the theory of self-fulfilling prophecy, but in positive. If we get used to identify ourselves and identify your team with those concepts that most favor our activity, our intelligence, our capacity for adventure, the predisposition works in our favor.

In organizations, this type of attitude is fostered by rewarding new ideas. At an individual level it is very important to be ambitious and to bet on our dreams to grow beyond the limitations. For example, María Cortés, partner and founder of EnClaveChina, recalls: “At the beginning of our journey as a company, business logic told us that public institutions were out of our reach as clients because of our short history. But we launched to capture these clients and now we have been working with institutions in Aragon for four years. The belief and the security in the value of what we do has made us follow this intuition and the result really could not have been better “.

11. Feel good with your choice

When a decision is made to put a knot in our stomachs, it is most likely that our body is warning us that we are not following our intuition.

And the other way around, if your steps are in accordance with what you really want, you will feel at ease. Paulo Coelho, in his archifamous work El alquimista, explained it very well: “When you go in consonance with yourself, the whole universe conspires in your favor”. As Stuart Jones explains, “intuition is important, but it must be aligned with our heart. In that case it can be very powerful. On the contrary, if our intuition goes against our values or principles, then it is a recipe for disaster. ”

12. Develop empathy

Intuitive decisions in the social field are very effective because they are knowledge long apprehended, not only by the person as an individual, but by society as a whole since living in a herd. Intuitively we are able to recognize when someone is cheating us, when they are lying to us or when they are upset. To improve the effectiveness of this type of decision, it is necessary to emphasize the development of empathy: through it we will learn to contemplate reality as others contemplate it, which will allow us to advance in the strategy of double listing, of questioning everything and it will allow us to see and hear beyond what we usually do. It is about expanding all points of view on the problem in question.

13. Encourage your curiosity

When we travel to distant destinations, we join a new job or we enter unknown sectors or markets, we become much more inclined to experience new things and, therefore, our mind opens up more. That is, our curiosity is aroused and this curiosity is what encourages us to try new things, to overcome our limits, to self-portray, to discover new things, to enjoy all the details and, therefore, to be more alert. Then, the day-to-day routine introduces us back to self-imposed limits and restricts our capacity for surprise and enthusiasm. Oblígate, then, to maintain that attitude of constant curiosity. In addition to enjoying more of what you do, you will be able to keep your mind open to other options. At the team level, one way to maintain the restless spirit of the early days is to promote work by projects, which are constantly renewed. If that is not possible, one solution is to rotate the posts.

14. Play with the senses

The information, the conscious and, above all, the unconscious, penetrates through the senses, so that the best way to expand it is by stimulating the five channels (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste) so that they become accustomed to perceive more. “Packlink observed a lot. After their bad experiences with the current messaging services and after two years of intense technological development, Ben Askew-Renaut and Javier Bravo detected a gap in the market and found an opportunity to create a unique startup in their category in which to grow their business”, explains Noelia Lázaro, Marketing Director of Packlink. There are multiple sensory games that can help you stimulate the senses: make sketches, identify figures in stones or clouds, practice with the games of errors, individualize tunes and sounds, and make blind tastings…

15. Think different

Techniques such as Scammper, The six hats of Bono, Lass Thousand and one idea, The decomposition of the cherry… can be very useful when developing intuition because they value our right hemisphere. In intuitive terminology, it is about thinking differently, trying different ways. Or as Fran Monaj explains, co-founder of Youtalk, “success lies in betting on something when there is uncertainty. When it is a reality and many other companies do something that you want to start up, it is often too late. “The international expansion of Ticketbis was key in the success of this company and its founders even undertook against the general opinion of those around them.”The question was whether we deepened in the Spanish market, and thus get benefits before, or if we delayed the benefits and went out. Almost everyone said that we should opt for the first option, but we, my partner and I, decided to grow quickly outside and left. We analyzed the competition, we saw that there was nothing similar in Latin America, that the whole war was in Europe and the US and we thought that it would be the most interesting investment.Michelena. Raúl Benito also recognizes the importance of thinking differently: “A recent intuition was the decision to create Valeria and Lorenza, who are the two largest cows in Europe and who help us in Eboca to spread the values of good milk. Contrary to what is usual in our sector, we use 100% milk and we wanted it to be known. From the budgetary point of view it was outrageous and most of my colleagues thought it was crazy. Even so, I decided to do it and it was a resounding success. The knowledge of our company and the quality of our products has grown exponentially. ”

16. It questions the established

Going through untrodden paths is the key to innovation. That going beyond the limits, breaking with the established, questioning even the management is behind the great advances. A clear example is the adoption of the brick for wine made in García Carrión: “We were looking for a completely lost container and that was the most economical and recyclable, but a prioriIt seemed the least indicated, because at that time only milk came in this type of packaging. We launch. We ran a very high risk because we invested a lot and we bet everything. In fact, we did like Hernán Cortés; we burned our ships so that there was no going back: we got rid of a million plastic boxes. We wanted to get very far with a cheap and recycled container and it worked. The success was spectacular, so much that it has extinguished the echo of other successful things that we have done later “, explains José García Carrión, founder and of the García Carrión Group.

17. Anticipate

Another way to be intuitive is to anticipate trends, changes in the market, regulations, technology … “Five years ago what SEO agencies did in web positioning served more to quantity than quality. At that time I had the intuition that the paradigms that were being worked on were going to change and that Google would end up focusing on the detection and penalization of all those search engine optimization structures that are so artificial and of poor quality. And we decided to go against what was being done. The result was that Google improved its algorithm in the sense that we had intuited, which meant that all our customers strengthened their positions in search engine rankings, while many other websites disappeared, “recalls David Boada Director of Kaizen 2D Group.

18. Develop flexibility

In the acceptance of the errors it is included to assume also that not always the initial model is the best one and that it needs a redefinition, reason why it is necessary to be flexible. It’s a bit what happened to Packlink: “The goals we set ourselves in the first years were international expansion. But, as small companies came to the platform, we realized that we had to change course and our intuition led us to focus our attention on the development of Packlink PRO in the countries where we were already settled, leaving internationalization aside. That change of course positioned us as absolute leaders in the logistics market. “So try to develop your mental flexibility by doing exercises like mentally changing the color of a wall and doing it quickly and successively:

19. Innova

Not everyone has the same kind of intuition. There are some who are very good innovating, others track, others importing… The innovator tends to ask what new ideas, what new solutions, and what new markets can I direct my proposal… “Intuition and resounding success has been the case of our concentrated Tropic Rives juices without alcohol, since we created a nonexistent category in Spain more than 30 years ago and today is a consolidated category, with which we maintain a market share of 50%, “recalls Augusto Romero Haupold.

20. Track

The tracker is very good at detecting innovations, models or technologies that already exist, but which are being underutilized or needs that are not being sufficiently met. It is perhaps the type of smell that most relies on rational analysis, because it is able to perceive the details and see where others do not see to draw unsuspected conclusions. One of the activities that could best be identified with the sniff tracker would be that of investors, because they detect good ideas in the market to invest money. An entrepreneur who also identifies with this profile would be Fran Monaj, co-founder of YouTalk: “In my experience, if you are a restless person, you are dedicated to reading and contrasting information, you can perceive needs, trends or ideas that can be applied or put to the test in your business. This type of intuition that keeps you alert is very important. ”

21. Matters

The importer has a lot of ability to detect what opportunities from other countries, markets and sectors can be imported into their own. That’s what they did, for example, in YouTalk: “A few years ago, I realized that online reviews were the base of successful businesses: Amazon, Booking, Tripadvisor… I saw that Google was taking these reviews to all business through Google Maps. We started to bet that our clients leave reviews and expect results. Today, many of our users come to us in this way “. Now, the success of recycling an idea lies above all in the ability to adapt it to your customers and the environment.

22. Change perspective

As Augusto Romero Haupold insists, “the most fruitful intuition is always the one linked to creativity”. In the words of Xavier Gabriel, founder of the Bruixa d’Or, “surely contradicting the majority will give you the opportunity you are looking for, remember the crowded road, enter the jungle and you will live more risk, but you will also visually locate the success ” In that sense, perform a SWOT that helps you analyze a problem in all its dimensions. It opens the mind in all its layers, forcing our brain to look for all those possible implications that escape us at first. And get used to changing the perspective, to always ask yourself the opposite of what you are looking for: instead of doing something, consider why not it do.

23. Be bold

The audacity is what is behind one of the successes in the career of Sébastien Chartier, CEO of CreaVenture and Salón MiEmpresa, “In 1999, when I launched Capital & Corporate, everyone told me I was crazy, it was very complicated to make a magazine profitable and that also directed me to a niche market (venture capital) that was non-existent in Spain. In the end, I passed all and I dared to throw it. We earn money almost from the first minute. I sold the company a few years later and the magazine continues to be the leader in its niche 17 years later. I had the intuition that, although the market was nascent, it was going to grow a lot.”

24. Make it happen

“In the day to day, you have to weigh a thousand variables and if you stop to analyze each one of those elements, you never take the step. There is no mechanism faster than intuition, understood as a personal discovery when you have many inputs, “says Arriaga. In other words, you have found that business opportunity that you were looking for, you have analyzed it, you have compiled the information, because nowmake it happen, make it happen. The only way to know if an initiative can work is to try, as proposed by Iñaki Arrola , founder of Coches.com and co-founder of Vitamina K, one of the most dynamic investment funds in technological innovation, “it is good to test the market and, if a small sample says that it works, to go climbing “. It would be a bit the trend so in vogue of the lean startup.

25. Explore

You can also work on intuition by exploring new possibilities in your own business through other types of questions: How can I make my business bigger? How can I make it grow? How can I do it differently? Sometimes it is not enough to have found an opportunity and has managed to manage it, it is also necessary to explore new formulas that allow you to maintain yourself, grow and adapt to the new times. Companies such as La Bruixa d’Or, Circo Del Sol, Naranjas Lola or BQ are examples of this: models that have revolutionized their respective markets. You have to know how to properly measure yourself, be informed of what is happening, be innovative and keep track of what is happening.

26. Analyze

As Gary Klein points out in the article Strategic decisions: when can you trust your guts, “If you intend to follow your intuitions without further ado, you are wrong. You have to take intuitions or hunches as starting points and subject them to a conscious and deliberate analysis. “And, as the study showsHow companies make good decisions (McKinsey Global Research), intuitive decisions taken without proper strategic planning generate up to 75% less revenue. “Before creating Arriaga Associates I was ruined by some investments. Analyzing what had happened, I realized that I had not weighed anything. It was an intuition not contrasted, vague, of little effort. If there is no research and work, intuition becomes divination and fails “, insists Ruiz de Arriaga. There are extreme cases like that of Balbino Prieto, president of Nova Internacional and Antelex and president of the Club of Exporters and Investors, for whom the way to improve the effectiveness of intuition is, precisely, “minimizing the intuitive part so as not to jeopardize the success or viability of investments and business projects.”

27. Know to recognize

Frank Monaj explains it very well: “Intuition can fail the more we are unfamiliar with the sector in which we operate. The more knowledge we have, the more informed that intuition will be and the more possibilities of success we will have “. It is a constant among entrepreneurs: the more training, experience and knowledge, the more developed the intuition in those areas and the easier it is for them to act with the autopilot on and hit. And, as Fagundo insists, “Training is essential to make a decision. Intuition will give us the courage we need, but we must know where we are getting ourselves and not get carried away by feelings. Serendipity is a discovery that is made looking for something else. The right intuition is something similar to a luck that starts getting up at seven in the morning, working, taking experience and training you.”

28. Disconnect

To make intuition accessible, unconscious information, it is necessary to disconnect the conscious mind. “My intuitive ability develops because every day I do meditation and that helps me a lot,” explains Ruiz de Arriaga. Stuart Jones advocates practice minfulness. There are many tools that allow the disconnection of the conscious, such as relaxation, visualization, meditation, the technique of the decision makers … One of the simplest is incubation: it consists of gathering all the information about the decision and, once analyzed, let it incubate, doing a different activity. After a while the unconscious will give you the answer.

29. Listen to your guts

Once the validity of the information collected has been verified, follow your impressions, your guts. “My partner, my wife, who is in charge of the administration, on two occasions had the intuition that an alliance with a partner much more powerful than us could be fatal and refused. That partner inexplicably fell and would have dragged us, “recalls Subijana, who did not hesitate to accept that intuition. However, it is easier to ignore these warning signs because they are not verbalizable and especially when they go against rational analysis. How it happened to Iñaki Arrola or Stuart Jones. “The day before I made my first investment, my wife told me: Do not ally yourself with that person, do not send her the money. I do not know why, but I do not trust it. “I went ahead because all the numerical aspects supported the investment and in the end it was a total failure that led me to lose everything I had invested. Now I know that, after the analysis, there is a relevant point ‘of gut’ that must be ignored, “says Arrola. In the Jones case, “we hired someone to run our new company. She dialed all the right boxes-professional experience, ambition, hardworking, intelligent-but there was something in her attitude that sent me a warning signal. I ignored it. In the end it was a disaster.”

30. Communicate and contrast

How to explain why you have decided for a business or a decision, when perhaps what has moved you to it is nothing more than a tingling in the stomach? This can be one of the great brakes of intuition. Quiet. It is not about verbalizing the reasons that have prompted you to make a decision, but about arguing the decision itself, supporting it in a logical explanation.

“Intuition allows you to generate a hypothesis, but then you have to contrast this intuition and see if it is right or not,” insists Arriaga. Something in which Monaj also agrees: “Once we perceive something that gives us some indication in an intuitive way, the ideal is to contrast it as much as possible with certainties and objective data. We failed intuition not to contrast it with the real needs of the market.

31. Check your intuitions

Although it seems a posteriori regimen, the truth is that our intuitive capacity is enhanced when we receive a positive feedback on the correctness or not of following that hunch. It is easier to detect if you are wrong not to follow an intuition than when we follow it, because when we make mistakes we analyze the reasons that led us to that error, but when we guess we rarely reflect on why we made the right decision. And that is a mistake: you have to check your intuitions always, whether we succeed in following them or if we are wrong. Something that corroborates Cabiedes: “Intuition works in environments where you can develop a cause-effect association and have feedbackof fast and simple quality and with practical possibility “. A good way to do it, either individually or collectively, is to create a file of the decisions, both successful and those that have not been, with their respective analysis.

32. Let you be advised and ask for advice

Sometimes we are not objective enough to discern if we are faced with a hunch or a simple impression. That is why it is good to submit the intuition to the judgment of other people and ask them to expose the weak or negative points of your proposal. In addition, teamwork facilitates the interaction of various ways of thinking and, in this way, multiplies the information that can accumulate and that can originate more forms of intuition. In the study 
How companies make good decisions, of McKinsey Global Survey, it is gathered that the decisions initiated and approved by the same person generate the worst financial results, which indicates the value of the discussion among several as Fran Monaj explains, the founder of YouTalk, “it is good to consult with third parties; you can reinforce our intuition or dissuade us so as not to waste resources of time and money”.

33. And practice

As the partner of Cabiedes & Partners insists, “intuition improves, first, using it in its proper environment and, second, with practice. The reason why an expert detects a falsification is by much practice, by much experience, by muchofeedback, by many opportunities to have learned. It develops with practice, with the test and so you become an expert who has taken advantage of intuition with continued use. ”

As defends the president of the Spanish beverage multinational Rives, Romero Haupold, “to gain effectiveness, intuition requires training. And to be wrong, of course, to continue learning and to be able to hit right in the following intuitive decisions, it is training for a future decision. “So our advice is clear: do not forget to practice your skills to make them systematic and that work almost intuitively. The same happens when you learn to walk. It is something as simple as turning the new knowledge we acquire into a mechanic by repeating and repeating them.


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