An important attribute of being a corporate entrepreneur is being able to rely on intuition. A new venture often faces a number of issues where there isn’t always a clear-cut answer. Relying on intuition is often the only way to make a decision.

Having a can-do attitude refers to believing that something is possible, but intuition is about going with your gut. It is more of a feeling about something, an internal guidance system that points you in one direction versus another. There are some individuals who possess an uncanny ability to interpret situations by relying on their gut.

Sometimes intuition will have to do.

Relying on intuition is unnerving for many especially those who are grounded in facts and figures. Management especially may be uncomfortable about these decisions. Any doubts they may have had about the venture going in are often magnified when they hear decisions are being made by relying on someone’s gut feeling. Yet it’s often these decisions that make the difference and provide another avenue for exploration.

Many corporate entrepreneurs have good influencing skills and are very convincing in their arguments. They can make a solid case for their decision without all the facts and figures, relying much more on intuition. Often it is their belief in what they are doing that enables them to win others over to their point of view.

A decision based on gut is one thing, making a commitment to that decision is another. Corporate entrepreneurs will take the initiative to make unpopular decisions when they feel they are right. They will accurately assess the risk and take the appropriate action when needed. They are not risk takers, they are calculated risk takers. Once they make the decision, they commit themselves to it.

Decisions based on intuition should be vetted by testing assumptions about the gut feeling. Often the team’s collective wisdom provides enough input to reinforce or dismiss the feeling. Corporate entrepreneurs take responsibility for their decisions, right or wrong. They have confidence in their own abilities to make decisions based on their gut. They are decisive.

A Fortune 100 company decided to invest in a new product line. The company had conducted extensive research to better understand the market need and define the product requirements. They had a solid business plan and were ready to build the team. The entrepreneurial leader, who had not been involved in the initial market research, was concerned about the viability of the business plan. The leader had a nagging feeling that something was missing and that the product design was not right.

Determined to dismiss their own gut feeling, the team began to dig deeper into the research, went outbound to speak with prospective clients, interviewed internal sales people, and concluded that the product as currently defined would not meet the needs of the target market. By going with their gut feeling, they were able to refine the business plan and readjust expectations to reflect the true reality of the situation. Of course, this increased costs and pushed out delivery dates, but it was better to catch it before the product was further down the development cycle.

Relying on intuition is an under-utilized and underdeveloped skill that organizations must begin to understand. Accepting it will likely be the most difficult part.

How comfortable are you in making decisions based on intuition?


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