Business academics and related disciplines such as operations research and artificial intelligence generally took a narrow view of intuition. There were exceptions to the mechanistic computer model of intuitive process, but even they maintained a strict M-1 view of the possibilities. As mentioned in the career thread, I was fortunate to have department chairs who supported my unorthodox classroom themes and methods given excellent ratings and feedback from students. Differences between my personal experiences and what I was supposed to teach in business school highlighted the paradoxes and inconsistencies I had to resolve to find an acceptable accommodation with reality.

Non Logical Processes

Paradoxically the foundation was laid for a radical reconstruction of my concept of intuition in business academics. However this came through byways rather than mainstream academic work. Chester Barnard who wrote The Functions of the Executive was president of New Jersey Bell Telephone Company. Since he wrote in an academic style, his work was recognized by business scholars. But it was usually included as supplementary rather than primary material in organization theory courses. I was introduced to his work in a Ph.D. class where the book was given as outside reading.

Although we were assigned the main text, I was drawn to the Appendix titled "Mind in Everyday Affairs." This was a transcript of a lecture Barnard gave to the Engineering Faculty at Princeton University in 1936. In this talk, he made an articulate case for the non logical processes in decision making which he described as "those not capable of being expressed in words or as reasoning ." That material appealed to me more than the main text because of the then and now neglect of the non logical in business studies.

Barnard called attention to the ways intellectual reasoning acquired an aura that belittled the non logical. This telling critique gave me insight into how intuitive knowing challenged my academic colleagues. He called for a balanced approach which honored both modes in measures appropriate to the situation. Although Barnard made a compelling case for non rational processes in business, he explicitly related them to knowing acquired through circumstances. He did not speak of a way of knowing that reached beyond what was accounted for by experience.

What Did We Learn?

Twenty-five years later, Barnard reflected on non logical processes in an interview with William Wolf. In his conversations with Barnard, Wolf asked about developing intuition and his reaction to quantative methods in decision making. I was curious if Barnard would recognize intuition in the large. He spoke of a "gap" between what was known and what was observed reflecting a sense of uncertainty regarding his life long inquiry. Barnard seemed to admit knowing less than ever before. He questioned whether we could teach anything of consequence about management. He expressed a sense of mystery about life. Perhaps his soul was peeking out from behind the curtains.

When asked about his reaction to quantitative approaches to decision making, Barnard acknowledged the extraordinary contributions of science to our progress. However he was quick to point out that he had yet to be shown how it would enable decision makers to effectively put the whole picture together. Here was the classic conflict between the deductive and inductive strategies that Robert Pirsig wrote about. My experience as an operations research analyst had convinced me that rational protocols would never grasp the gestalt of a situation. But an ineffable quality beyond the rational could do so in the blink of an eye.

When Supertramp was popular, I was so taken by their rendition of The Logical Song that I played it for my management students. Reading the lyrics did not do justice to the plaintive quality of the melody, but hearing the song struck a responsive chord for most students. With all their education, few had even the first clue about the lyrics question:

Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
but please tell me who I am.

For a whole and successful business person, a nurturing environment to evoke an understanding of answers to this question should have been at the top of the curriculum. But nothing that came close was in their course of study!

Promises from Computer Land

In addition to Barnard, Herbert Simon was assigned reading in my Ph.D. program. His book on Administrative Behavior was already considered a classic. Simon acknowledged his debt to Barnard for the ideas in that book. In a later book, New Science of Management Decision, he sang the praises of the rational approach to problem solving. One illustration in that book was a page in the management gospel according to the Wharton School. The table of traditional versus modern decision making techniques was emblazoned on my brain and shaped my mind for years to come.

With my MBA in Math Methods and Computers and a subsequent career as an operations research analyst, I had cast my fate with the "modern programmed" camp of decision making techniques. Although I was frustrated with my computer simulation efforts, I was not aware yet that I was part of the problem. I had not woken up to the "traditional non programmed" techniques which included judgment, intuition and creativity. I was intrigued by modern expert system approaches to non programmed decisions. In the information systems years of my career, I studied expert systems where the artificial intelligence gurus were promising problem solving nirvana.

A related initiative that captured my attention was Charles Kepner and Benjamin Tregoe's The Rational Manager. This book title intrigued my operations research mentality. They asserted "the manager must rely more and more on skillful, rational questioning, and less and less on experience." (Note 139) There was one pejorative mention each of creativity and intuition in their book. However each time I read their book, I had an uneasy feeling something was amiss. I realized the disparaging dismissal of intuition was not valid.

My rational facade was cracking under the influence of The Blindmen and the Elephant, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Stranger in a Strange Land. As a Robert Heinlein character in the latter book would say, the rational view did not "grok" my experience. What I noticed about the two managers on the short term sales forecasting project did not fit into Simon's framework. Taking the left brain right brain workshop with Robert Ornstein was the straw that broke the camel's back. A return to a world of balance and wholeness rooted in the soil of my soul had begun. But many struggles lay ahead.

In a continuning effort to comprehend modern programmed decision strategies, I delved into artificial intelligence. My training was not sufficient to comprehend the subject. But I did acquire an intuitive grasp of claims made by researchers such as Simon and his colleague Allen Newell. After poring over their Human Problem Solving on numerous occasions, I was amazed to find "insight" and "incubation" were mentioned as isolated thinking phenomena in the Epilogue of their 900 page book. (Note 140) Something was missing in the chess playing programs even though they eventually went on to defeat world champion Gary Kasparov.

Where was the heart of the matter, where was the soul? How did the computer feel about the match? Where did my experiences listening to the surf or watching my granddaughter play fit into this scheme to mastermind the universe with computer programs? The answer was - nowhere! The computer was neither sad nor glad when it won a match. An expert medical diagnosis system did not respond to the fear in the patient's eyes when told they only had a few months to live. The heart, soul and their companion The Intuitive Self were nowhere to be found in my studies of artificial intelligence.

From Novice to Expert

Even though it could modify its behavior in response to experience, the computer could not stand in the corner and witness its process the way the manager on the forecasting project had. The AI community created sophisticated simulations of human thinking, but their programs could not intuit at the level of a two year old. My misgivings around these issues were confirmed by Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus in Mind Over Machine. Their bottom line was that computer intelligence could not match human intuition and expertise.

As an operations research pioneer, Stuart Dreyfus had reservations about the long run potential after much reflection on the subject. To get at the crux of the issue, the Dreyfus brothers studied the process of acquiring expertise. Their research suggested a five stage process discussed in their chapter Five Stages from Novice to Expert: 1) novice, 2) advanced beginner, 3) competent, 4) proficient and 5) expert. They believed artificial intelligence was useful in the first three and part of the fourth but not in the fifth stage.

Reviewing how I learned to use the Fortran language to code computer programs, I traced my development from a novice in Robert Graves class until I was an expert programmer in several languages. In their development of expertise, intuition in the small came into play in stage four and was the defining characteristic of stage five. What I called intuition in the large, they referred to as "mystical attunement" and questioned whether it existed. Even though they challenged the exaggerated claims of the artificial intelligence community, they adhered to the M-1 world view.

They hinted at topics beyond rationality by recognizing part of the mind monitored the acquisition of skill. This awareness made judgments about the success or failure of intuitive strategies and modified future behavior to reflect these learnings. I referred to that part of the mind as the observer. They also alluded to the rare moments when all monitoring ceased. At that point, what I called the witness took over from the observer. This non judgmental mind noticed each moment of experience without attachment to the process or its outcomes.

And finally they touched on creativity - "the truly imaginative act for which there is no historical precedent." They were clear their skill acquisition process was not creativity. By recognizing the need for moments when monitoring ceased and for imaginative acts beyond personal experience, they opened the door to intuition in the large. They spoke of the athletes' high when performers experienced a state of flow. These were practical examples when monitoring ceased and the witness took over awareness of the process.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied and wrote about the psychology of optimal experience as it occurred in cultures around the world. In distilling their common characteristics, he described the conditions of flow. Attention distractions were critical obstacles to achieving flow. Through flexible attention to the meaning of the moment, I accessed The Intuitive Self whose natural state was flow. Optimal experiences were done for their own sake. Each moment was pregnant with the fullness of life. Meaning came from the process rather than external goals and objectives. Behind the qualities of flow, I noticed that soul presence pervaded experience.

Analyses Frozen into Habit

Although I found hints of soul in the intuition related ideas of Barnard, Dreyfus and Csikszentmihalyi, any suggestion of the larger sense of life was absent in management literature. Nowhere was this more evident than the writings of Herbert Simon which had already influenced my career. As a member of the computer and math modeling priesthood destined to save the world from itself, I was proud to cast my lot with advocates of modern decision making techniques. That was until chinks developed in my rational armor plating.

Preparing to return to school for my Ph.D., I visited three schools: Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pittsburg and the University of Pennsylvania. Simon's school Carnegie was even more rational in its orientation than the University of Chicago. The faculty were considered the mathematical whiz kids of management research. This was evident when I talked with a couple of students to get a flavor for their program. One was so stressed out that he had lost control of his bladder. They seemed proud of their part in this outcome. It showed their rigorous program was not for the rationally inept or logically deprived.

Simon was the epitome of the rational mind. His research using the chess metaphor of human problem solving led him to define intuition as "analyses frozen into habit." In this view, managers acquired the skill to rapidly respond to changing circumstances by cultivating intuition and judgment over years of training and experience. Intuitions were fast analyses that had become routine for certain problems. A Manager's response occured as quickly as he sensed which class a problem fell into.

Reducing Intuition to Rationality

The Dreyfus brothers had already shown the fallacy of this calculative reason view of intuition. To help me come to terms with my budding misgivings about the rationally driven world view, I prepared a critique of Simon's article that defined intuition as analyses frozen into habit. I discovered Simon's writing evoked the shadow of my operations research zealot. I was not going to save the world with my linear programming abstractions of the human spirit. If heart and soul were absent, the endeavor was subhuman.

Simon's skill in seeing the world in terms of the rational M-1 view reminded me of those qualities in myself. He so expertly expressed the rational style that he received a Nobel prize for his achievements. With this insight, I was amazed my long suffering wife held out under the rational onslaught for thirty years. What a brave intuitive heart to put up with it for so long without bailing out before she did. She left for a man that openly embraced the intuitive way in the world.

Henry Mintzberg critiqued Simon's view pointing out that much of Simon's research used linear verbal protocols:

Thus, research that accesses the conscious, that does so via people's input/output devices, and that assumes a posture that is essentially reductionist in nature, and therefore basically analytic, has been used to draw inferences about processes that appear to be subconscious and based in a good part on synthesis. Is it any wonder then that intuition gets reduced to "analyses frozen into habit"? (Note 145).

Mintzberg went on to note that even though we state the results of an insightful synthesis as a sequence of words, how we got the insight in the first place remained mysteriously hidden in the subconscious mind.

Decision Making Spectrum

Even though Mintzberg challenged Simon's reductionist view, he did not allow for knowing that transcended training and experience. Exposure to non Western traditions had opened my mind to knowing beyond the rational possibilities. I sought a scope of intuition that encompassed Eastern and Western views of intuitive knowing. To pull these ideas together and place them in context, I prepared a diagram showing the relationship between the decision making spectrum and information, intuition in the small and intuition in the large:

diagram of intuition in decision making

Whenever I needed to make a decision, facts about the situation were already known. However except for the simplest problems, that would not be sufficient to make the decision. The difference between what I knew and what I needed was described by the Chairman of my Ph.D. committee, Adrian McDonough, as the Decision Gap. (Note 146)

To fill the gap, I obtained information from formal and informal systems such as reading an article or asking a friend what they thought. When I drew on my experience and education for insight, I accessed intuition in the small. The less routine and more strategic the decision, the less likely that would close the gap enough to make the decision. From the broader perspective, I also accessed intuition in the large from the realm of knowing inherent in the implicate order beyond my consciousness. If my skill was mature, I could close the gap from three sources: information, intuition in the small and intuition in the large.

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