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.
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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 intuitive 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:
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.
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