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December 19, 2007

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Strategic Intuition

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 3:39 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement by William Duggan, Columbia Business School Publishing, 192 pages, $27.95, Hardcover, October 2007, ISBN 9780231142687
In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell wrote about how professionals in different fields make important in-the-moment decisions using the instinct gained from past experiences and expertise. One would think that strategic decision-making, the focus of William Duggan's new book, is detached from intuition and based in rational planning, reflection and intellect. This is the classic idea of the split between right brain and left brain functions--the distinction between creativity and rationale. However, referencing modern brain science, Duggan explains how--with advances in MRI technology and brain imaging--that previous model of the brain and its functions has given way to the idea of "intelligent memory." He then takes a look at what this new model tells us about intuition.
Brain science tells us there are three kinds of intuition: ordinary, expert, and strategic. Ordinary intuition is just a feeling, a gut instinct. Expert intuition is snap judgments, when you instantly recognize something familiar, the way a tennis pro knows where the ball will go from the arc and speed of the opponent's racket....The third kind, strategic intuition, is not a vague feeling, like ordinary intuition. Strategic intuition is a clear thought. And it's not fast, like expert intuition. It's slow. That flash of insight you had last night might solve a problem that's been on your mind for a month.
The main point of Strategic Intuition is that large, long-term improvements are not the result of setting a goal and planning a strategy. Instead, accomplishments build on one another. Even the fact that the stricter split-brain model has given way to a new, more nuanced one as a result of the development of the MRI is an example. The same can be said of Newton improving Copernicus's model of the solar system or Microsoft's improvements of the personal computer.
Not only does Duggan tell these stories compellingly, he weaves in the work of three great minds who have influenced his thinking--Thomas Kuhn on science, Joseph Schumpter on economics, and Carl Von Clausewitz on military strategy. He also includes a chapter on three eastern texts to discuss the mentality one needs to maximize the potential of strategic intuition. Innovation is the result of an intuitive and flexible approach rather than setting a goal that is planned, fixed, and inflexible. As a whole, this book might just change how you look at human thought and strategy, and influence how you organize yourself and your team strategically.