Integrating Intuition and Analysis

Edward Deming once said, “In God we trust. All others bring data.” The strategic-management process can be described as an objective, logical, systematic approach for making major decisions in an organization. It attempts to organize qualitative and quantitative information in a way that allows effective decisions to be made under conditions of uncertainty. Yet strategic management is not a pure science that lends itself to a nice, neat, one-two-three approach.

Based on past experiences, judgment, and feelings, most people recognize that intuition is essential to making good strategic decisions. Intuition is particularly useful for making decisions in situations of great uncertainty or little precedent. It is also helpful when highly interrelated variables exist or when it is necessary to choose from several plausible alternatives. Some man­agers and owners of businesses profess to have extraordinary abilities for using intuition alone in devising brilliant strategies. For example, will Durant, who organized GM, was described by Alfred Sloan as “a man who would proceed on a course of action guided solely, as far as i could tell, by some intuitive flash of brilliance. He never felt obliged to make an engineering hunt for the facts. Yet at times, he was astoundingly correct in his judgment.”3 albert Einstein acknowl­edged the importance of intuition when he said, “i believe in intuition and inspiration. at times i feel certain that i am right while not knowing the reason. imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world.”4 although some organizations today may survive and prosper because they have intuitive geniuses managing them, many are not so fortunate. Most organizations can benefit from stra­tegic management, which is based on integrating intuition and analysis in decision making. choosing an intuitive or analytic approach to decision making is not an either-or proposition. Managers at all levels in an organization inject their intuition and judgment into strategic- management analyses. analytical thinking and intuitive thinking complement each other.

Operating from the i’ve-already-made-up-my-mind-don’t-bother-me-with-the-facts mode is not management by intuition; it is management by ignorance.5 Drucker says, “i believe in intuition only if you discipline it. ‘Hunch’ artists, who make a diagnosis but don’t check it out with the facts, are the ones in medicine who kill people, and in management kill businesses.”6 As Henderson notes:

The accelerating rate of change today is producing a business world in which customary managerial habits in organizations are increasingly inadequate. Experience alone was an adequate guide when changes could be made in small increments. But intuitive and experi­ence-based management philosophies are grossly inadequate when decisions are strategic and have major, irreversible consequences.7

In a sense, the strategic-management process is an attempt to duplicate what goes on in the mind of a brilliant, intuitive person who knows the business and assimilates and integrates that knowl­edge using analysis to formulate effective strategies.

1. Adapting to Change

The strategic-management process is based on the belief that organizations should continually monitor internal and external events and trends so that timely changes can be made as needed. The rate and magnitude of changes that affect organizations are increasing dramatically, as evidenced by how the drop in oil prices caught so many firms by surprise. Firms, like organisms, must be “adept at adapting” or they will not survive. To survive, all organizations must astutely identify and adapt to change. The strategic-management process is aimed at allowing organiza­tions to adapt effectively to change over the long run. waterman noted:

in today’s business environment, more than in any preceding era, the only constant is change. Successful organizations effectively manage change, continuously adapting their bureaucracies, strategies, systems, products, and cultures to survive the shocks and prosper from the forces that decimate the competition.8

On a political map, the boundaries between countries may be clear, but on a competitive map showing the real flow of financial and industrial activity, the boundaries have largely disappeared. The speedy flow of information has eaten away at national boundaries so that people worldwide readily see for themselves how other people live and work. we have become a borderless world with global citizens, global competitors, global customers, global suppliers, and global distributors! Many firms headquartered in the United States are challenged by out- side-U.S.-based companies in many industries. For example, Toyota, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Volkswagen, Samsung, and Kia have huge market shares in the United States.

The need to adapt to change leads organizations to key strategic-management questions, such as “What kind of business should we become?” “Are we in the right field(s)?” “Should we reshape our business?” “What new competitors are entering our industry?” “What strategies should we pursue?” “How are our customers changing?” “Are new technologies being developed that could put us out of business?”

The Internet promotes endless comparison shopping, enabling consumers worldwide to band together to demand discounts. the internet has transferred power from businesses to indi­viduals. Buyers used to face big obstacles when attempting to get the best price and service, such as limited time and data to compare, but now consumers can quickly scan hundreds of vendor offerings. Both the number of people shopping online and the average amount they spend is increasing dramatically. Digital communication has become the name of the game in market­ing. consumers today are flocking to blogs, sending tweets, watching and posting videos on Youtube, and spending hours on tumbler, Facebook, Reddit, instagram, and Linkedin, instead of watching television, listening to the radio, or reading newspapers and magazines. facebook recently unveiled features that further marry these social sites to the wider internet. Facebook users can now log onto various business shopping sites from their social site, so their friends can see what items they have purchased from what companies. facebook wants their members to use their identities to manage all their online identities. Most traditional retailers boost in-store sales using their websites to promote in-store promotions.

Source: David Fred, David Forest (2016), Strategic Management: A Competitive Advantage Approach, Concepts and Cases, Pearson (16th Edition).

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