SUMMARY I had an unexpected thought that a key test we were using to differentiate our products from the competition and to design new competitive products needed to be adjusted. As I questioned the idea out loud with the engineers, I expressed my intuition and got them to analyze the impact of my suggestion. As a result, we will change the test procedure to improve our ability to compare our products with the competition.

CONTEXT Context of the intuitive experience
Where physically: I was in a biweekly project review in the conference room at our manufacturing facility. The room was filled with people brought together to discuss new products in our current pipeline. This meeting is two hours long, and the conference room is large enough to handle fifteen people around the same table.
Where mentally: I was thinking about the past few months of sales calls and physician visits. I often mention products not yet released along with ideas for products. I was reviewing our current portfolio against sales goals and product offerings to formulate an appropriate strategy for sustained profitability. I was trying to anticipate questions I would be asked and comments I would make.

EXPERIENCE The intuitive experience
Just before: I had a conversation with the director of manufacturing in which we discussed the positive trend in domestic sales and his goals for the meeting. He is a cautious man and sometimes pessimistic, yet he likes having marketing excite the group with performance goals and strategy.
At the moment: I was listening to the discussion when it came to me that we were measuring our products with an inappropriate statistic. I realized that all the graphs were using a five cm test when a smaller value would yield a better result. Changing the test would improve our understanding of current products and help us develop future offerings.
Just after: I asked the group to justify the test they were using compared to comments we were hearing from our physician group. Discussing the feedback, it became clear that physicians were noticing a difference in the product's flexibility versus the competition yet our test results did not reflect this. We agreed to revisit our testing to determine where the perceived difference was coming from.

OBSTACLES Obstacles to the intuitive experience
Physical tension: This was a typical day. I had work and family tensions. However I was not overly stressed in any area. I usually think ahead a few months at work and a few years at home so I was feeling the tensions of those thoughts.
Fears felt: The key fears concerned competitive advancements over the next year. The industry is changing so rapidly that I was concerned how we would gain the necessary market share to achieve our business plan. We are relatively new in my product line so our group needs to develop, market and sell clinically advantageous products that stimulate market growth.
Desires felt: Since sales had doubled last year and were tracking towards doubling again this year, I was looking for new ways to position our product line to achieve record sales. By educating our field sales force and continuing to build our niche products to augment our current portfolio, we can exceed our business plan before the November time frame.
Mental clutter: Mental clutter was restricted to product problems and successes I experienced or was told about. I was trying to shoot holes in the presentations on product developments and standards so I could prepare myself to tell "stories" to the field sales force to push our product line. Occasionally I would assess individuals sitting around the table to determine strengths, weaknesses and potential trouble spots personally.

SOURCE Source of the intuitive message
Conscious to
Subconscious: 5
I had always left testing up to engineering and never questioned their methods. So when the thought came to mind, it was unusual for my role in the group. My subconscious mind received the message to recommend a change to achieve the success I was looking for.
Internal to
External: 6
This was an external message since it felt like I was passed a note with an answer to a question I was asking. I did not know I sought a testing solution. However when the answer came, I knew it was what we needed to resolve the concerns we were experiencing.
Rational to
Intuitive: 6
I had never questioned testing practices before. When the idea came out of nowhere, I knew it was exactly what was needed. Rationally I could have figured this out. But I was so busy, I had not taken time to bother with that detail.

MESSAGE Classification of the intuitive message
Type: 2 This involved a measurement that differentiates our products from the competition.
Form: 4 I rarely pay attention to engineering details since I take for granted they know our products inside and out. As I watched the presentations, a thought came into focus around a flexibility test on a smaller value than five cm of our product.
Kind: 2 This solution allowed me to view our measurement problems against different standards. Since we had always tested products with the five cm criteria, we neglected the possibility that a narrower test zone would produce clearer results from a reverse engineering perspective.

INFORMATION Information in the intuitive message
Strength: 6 The message was so strong I was able to make immediate headway and set a direction for our group to work towards.
Clarity: 6 I immediately knew that the test needed to be switched from five cm to three cm. The different result would indicate the needed adjustment to our current and future product portfolios. This will lead to stronger marketing stories with more competitive products.
Surprise: 4 Although the message was a surprise, the content was not. It was as if I knew the answer but was surprised when I realized it. I was not searching for a solution as much as I was looking for direction with testing in general.
Accuracy: 7 I knew immediately that a specific change needed to be made to a specific test to yield the results I was looking for.

EVALUATION Evaluation of the intuitive experience
How intentional: I focused on my responsibilities at the meeting. I use the testing data but had never thought to improve the tests. I wanted to generate sales for new products in the pipeline rather than develop better testing for current products that might have implications for the future.
Information use: After asking a few questions, I led the engineering managers into a discussion about the test. Within a short period, I got the engineers to adjust their testing and seek answers to many open issues that resulted from our discussion.
Benefits derived: The benefit was two fold. First I effected a change in how we measure ourselves against the competition. Second we adjusted current products to overcome issues we had encountered. Both our products and our group benefited from thinking "outside the box."
Personal learning: Although engineers had to evaluate my intuition, I am connected to a source of information that guides my decision making. I had attributed these insights to luck in the past, but now I see that the revelations might have been pure external intuitions.

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