Intuition in life and management

publication date 11.06.2006

figure 1 - intuition in negotiation

Personal accountability has the greatest value for cooperation and partnership. People set their own names as a guarantee of their pledges and acts. For this the only thing they need is sufficient practical knowledge and to really do whatever they promise to the other party. This is the condition necessary for mutual cooperation; but it does not suffice for the development of a company or corporation. Development requires creativeness, will, perseverance, humility, and intuition. All these characteristics are necessary for improvement and subsequent development. Intuition - as one of the needed properties - gives us a direction, and shows us which way we should take to incur minimum losses.

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Terms:

  • Intuition - anticipation, suspicion, ability to capture, visualisation, viewing. Intuitive intelligence (relying on senses = viewing intelligence).   
  • Spiritualism is a philosophy according to which the principle of the world is spiritual. The form of the mass is derived from the sole, see Otto’s Encyclopaedia.
  • Instinct - inborn urge, impulsion, feeling.

Only personal accountability can prevent losses 

Manufacturing and producing quality, environmentally friendly, and safe products and services are the objectives of us all [2]. It has been also required by the necessity to minimize losses. Everything of bad quality may cost us a new product, delay, or stopping of supplies. Every environmentally unfriendly product damages our environment while being used or subsequently while being disposed of. Each dangerous product directly threatens our health and life itself. This always represents losses: from the smallest ones, such as unnecessary work for repairing a defect of a poor quality product, remedying damages to the environment, or even ending up with injuries or deaths.
All these losses can be prevented or at least minimised. Quality systems according to ISO 9000, environmental management system according to ISO 14000, and safety management systems ISO 18000 are intended for this. Each of these systems strives to develop basic rules and set links in the organisation’s management system for the company to produce quality, environmentally friendly, and safe products. Why? Because the final consequences may not only cause financial losses of our company, but also damage to our lives or to the lives of successive generations. 
All these systems have one thing in common: They rely on mutual trust and accountability. Individual’s accountability is the only thing which can ensure that the system is not circumvented. Systems do set feedback for control, but if individual’s accountability fails, an act is completed and feedback discovers it only when it is all over. A consequent preventive measure can be only developed for an identical or similar situation; this will, however, never come again. Many surrounding conditions will change in the course of time. Only individual’s personal accountability can prevent losses.
Personal accountability is identified in the name of a human being. Life-long work stands behind him/her, which could be always considered. One name does not usually represent one person only, but the whole team, family, or generation. And it is worth doing something for the name and for the personal accountability. It is, however, necessary to comply with common rules.    
Every management system regardless of whether it is according to ISO 9000, 14000, 18000, or based on expert information systems, only prepares the grounds for accountable conduct of an individual. It defines how the individual should behave in the system, what he/she should do for his/her conduct to be considered accountable and when to do it, because following the final harmony of all the participating staff the final product will be given attributes of “quality”, “ecology”, and “safety”. 

Practical knowledge is reflected in products and economy 

Every manager knows that the existence of a company is based on products and/or services. Unless a company has a clear product line, it stands no chance to succeed in any market. The company management must lead the company for it to find itself in healthy economic figures. These two main indicators govern all company processes as well as control and information systems. If correctly set, they are indispensable. In each stage of product realization they present a clear train of activities and operations that should be performed. They provide each operative with the information necessary for his/her work. They evaluate key indicators of process functionality. By means of them the company is set at the outlined product line.     
However, this is not sufficient for long-term prosperity and successful and long-term presence in the market. The company must keep developing and finding new products, which is primarily the task of marketing. Marketing processes already form a part of the basic management system according to ISO 9000. First of all every process and every product must be continuously improved. Improvement forms an infinite loop, the main attribute of which is human accountability and desire to keep developing. Improvement is the area which is directly dependent on people, not on the system. With regard to the operatives, we distinguish three basic elements:   

  • Qualification - provides an idea of anticipated knowledge and skills of an operative (secondary school diploma, university degree, certification, etc.). 
  • Vocational capability - guarantees practical skills (a turner shows how he/she works on a lathe; a manager may prepare a cash flow statement).  
  • Operative’s characteristics - accountability, ability to communicate, ability to work in a team, ability to use one’s feelings...

All these three aspects are important for the correct functionality of a management system and the company existence. The first two of them consider theoretical and practical knowledge of an operative. They determine correct incorporation of an operative in the system and in the job position. They have a direct link to the product line and healthy economy. 

Intuition as a basis of improvement  

Continuous improvement mainly involves the third element - the operative’s characteristics. This also includes the ability to work with one’s own feelings, which are necessary for proper decision-making, and to choose the right way (own way) when searching for an optimum solution. Each of us makes decisions on the basis of one’s own feelings brought about by external impulses. In other words - on the basis of what impression a partner makes on us we choose our behaviour towards him/her. The same applies to individual solutions: depending on what feeling they arouse in us, we choose one of them for realization (providing all of them seem to be equally beneficial). At this stage sometimes only a minute difference suffices, which could be only perceived by an experienced operative, but the consequences may be enormous. The area of improvement is not so clear as the description of the process according to ISO. Intuition is invaluable for us in the first stages of decision-making. It can represent significant savings of our resources (time, energy, ...). A salesman may avoid a useless call on a customer; a manager may find it easier to discover critical points in the quality system. Intuition shows us which way we should go: the way which is meaningful and does not end in a trap door.
At the beginning of any action there is a feeling, impulse, or intuition. If a salesman wants to make a good deal, he has to be perfectly prepared for the discussions: he must know the environment of a customer, economic situation, his own products, and other things. The subsequent part of making a deal is strongly influenced by his ability to disclose a genuine, sometimes hidden need of the customer; he has to anticipate the best way of communication, product presentation, see Fig. 1. He has to make a decision whether to mainly show technical parameters to the customer, or to explain the philosophy and the latest trends related to the product. If he makes a bad decision, it may mean a total failure. If he makes a good decision, he can make an excellent deal. No ISO or expert systems help anybody in the way of communication; such systems only provide necessary knowledge and serve as a basis for preparation. Training may help a salesman to practise basic selling skills. But when certain knowledge or skill should be used and how to become successful is the matter of intuition or feeling. The same applies to all managers; quality managers are no exception.      
We do not have to go too far to find other examples. We were all children once. How was it possible then that our mother had always known of our troubles (torn trousers, bruised knees, that we had a fight, ...) before we were ready to tell her. It is simple. The only things we have from our birth are our feelings and sensations, see Fig. 2. And this is closely related to our intuition and ability to foresee some situations. No newborn ever had the ISO 9000 standard at his/her disposal. Intuition is our nature. There is no way of making a quality improvement without it. If we are supposed to choose one single solution from many similar ones, when our logic has exploited its options and the solutions seem to have the same proportion between benefits and costs, then we must employ our intuition.  
Before an operative starts using his/her own intuition, he/she has to acquire sufficient practical experience in the given field. He/she has to go through everything. Relaxation and ease of an operative strongly contributes to good work with one’s own feelings and consequently to the utilization of intuition. Stress always brings about hasty and unnecessary decisions. Furthermore the operative has to actively involve his/her psychic powers; it is not possible without them. Even doctors have discovered that no patient can be restored to health before he/she makes a decision to get well. At that very moment patients actively involve all their psychic abilities; and the same applies to the operatives at work.  
The above examples show that there is a strong need to seriously look at the operative’s characteristics and to start supporting work with feelings. This could be facilitated by the following: 

  • Continuous training of psychic abilities; 
  • Feeling of ease, relaxation, and safety;  
  • Corporate culture; 
  • Techniques supporting psychic activity (for example: brainstorming, team work, ...)  
  • Motivation;  
  • Getting rid of prejudices, fears, concerns, and limitations.  

Intuition is not for free. Due to this the current quality systems have to cater for the following: 

  • Tests of practical skills of the operatives when they start working in a job position, after they have gone through training;  
  • Utilizing the services of a psychologist and a typology specialist for the management of human resources during organisational changes;  
  • Establishment of tranquil atmosphere at the workplace;  
  • Familiarizing operatives with problems sufficiently in advance;  
  • Creation of company and management rebuses;  
  • Utilization of intuitive steps for the subsequent modelling of changes... 

Conclusion

Systems of quality, ecology, and safety form a basis for accountability. They give an opportunity to people to understand what they should do and how in order for their conduct to be considered responsible. By working in these systems they acquire necessary experience. This system basis has fixed and clear boundaries. It is necessary for us all to have an opportunity to start on the same base line. During further development of the systems and products the boundaries are no longer so distinct. The characteristics of the operatives and their intrinsic nature start coming to the forefront. At this stage of improvement it is necessary to start getting rid of restricting boundaries and limits, which have lost their meaning; this can be done only on the basis of practical knowledge and sufficient level of accountability. During the improvement process intuition becomes an indispensable part not only of our lives, but also of the management system. It is a feature working with feelings with regard to external impulses. If well utilized, it can save our resources. Intuition protects managers against bad decisions, gives an opportunity to survive and further develop. Intuition is directly dependent on practical experiences. It is possible that in the near future the style of our management will change and intuition will become a key factor of success and survival; see Fig. 3.


Let us not make steps about the correctness of which we are not logically and internally convinced!
 

Literature

 [1] Alain - Michel Chauvel, Burean Veritas Group, France : Another step to TQM, 41. Conference EOQ Thondheim, June 1997

 [2] Vladimír Horáček, Philosophy of “Big Q” and Importance of Information for Quality, Conference Quality Management 94 (Czech Republic, Brno, University of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, 1994)

Jiří Střelec

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