My work from the time I helped my father in the family business through my tenure as a Professor of Management all nurtured my interest in intuition. The experiences created obstacles on the way to The Intuitive Self as well as planted seeds for the tools to overcome them. In innumerable subtle and not so subtle ways, my career experience intertwined its way into the fabric of my search for inner knowing.
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Computer Systems Analyst
The Chicago MBA had a reputation for being rigorously rational. There would not be much nourishment for my intuitive self there. However living in Hyde Park offset the rational tone in my classes. It was a mini United Nations. Growing up in provincial Central Florida, I had not been exposed to cultural diversity. Except for shore leave while stationed on a ship in the Mediterranean, I had limited contact with other cultures.
Cultural diversity and a liberal neighborhood mentality nurtured my intuitive orientation. While I imagined my classes were the most important part of my education, living and shopping in Hyde Park had a deep impact at the subconscious level. Going to the Co-op for groceries was like taking a trip around the world both in terms of food on the shelves as well as shoppers in the aisles. The magnificent museums opened up other intellectual horizons to explore. The Asian art section at the Art Museum was my first encounter with Shiva Nataraja.
Only months away from a degree, job offers were numerous. With my new found love for computers, I took a position with the McDonnell Automation Center in St. Louis consulting with clients on operations research (OR) systems to optimize some aspect of business whether that was scheduling classes or running a starch refinery. As I worked on different projects, I realized something was missing. This was especially true when I worked closely with people who were clients for the OR models. Their non rational sense was not included in our equations!
After two years in St. Louis, I was ready to try something else. I took a position with Standard Oil of Indiana in their newly formed corporate operations research group which was overseeing the integration and consolidation of their nationwide computer systems in dozens of subsidiary companies. Here again I discovered something was missing. The more skilled I became with rational computer methods, the more clearly I saw that they did not tell the whole story.
Not only was something missing from the OR models, but something was missing in my career. My work was not intrinsically satisfying. I still marveled at an elegant flowchart or exquisite segment of program logic, but deeper nourishment was absent. I spent three days completing a battery of skill and preference assessments with a career counseling firm. Their recommendation was to obtain a Ph.D. and pursue a university teaching career. Still following my undergraduate advisor's advice, I enrolled in the best school I could afford.
An Intuitive Manager!
That brought me to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. To help meet expenses, I consulted with a Standard Oil company in Philadelphia that manufactured plastics. I worked with the sales department developing a short term sales forecasting system. I prepared the requirements specifications that stated what the users wanted the forecasting system to do for them. What was striking about this experience had little to do with the project per se.
Of the 31 sales and marketing people I worked with, two people were different. One was the department manager and the other headed up international sales. These senior managers thoroughly aroused my curiosity. When I talked to them about what they wanted the system to do, they immediately had a clear picture. In a quick interview, they would tell me what they wanted the computer to do. I wondered why the others did not have the same understanding of their needs? I discussed this with the one who was more approachable.
As he described it to me, he had the ability to sit at his desk, answering the telephone, holding meetings, etc., and separate a part of himself out to stand in the corner and observe what the other parts of him were doing. He was aware of his personal processes. Without knowing it, I had my first experience with a consciously aware intuitive manager. Years later when I discovered that part in me, I gave it the name "observer self." I had stumbled onto one of the missing ingredients.
With the exception of one professor, the computer faculty at Wharton was hard core technical. I was fortunate to work as teaching assistant for Adrian McDonough whose keen interest in the organizational side of computer systems was an inspiration. Our association nurtured my discovery of the non-technical intuitive dimensions of systems. With course work complete, I taught two years at the Case Western School of Management while I completed my dissertation.
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Intuition in Management
The Managerial Decision Styles class that I taught eventually evolved into Intuition in Management. This happened as my self discovery process progressed from integrating left hemisphere rational and right hemisphere intuitive styles to a search for a deeper form of knowing that I called intuition in the large. This was distinguished from traditional right hemisphere intuition in the small. To the extent business academics paid attention to intuition at all, it occurred primarily in Herbert Simon's "analyses frozen into habit and into the capacity for rapid response through recognition" version.
The first offering of Intuition in Management was a PhD special topics in the fall of 1993. The same term the course was approved as a regular offering at the doctoral level. In addition to four PhD students, a colleague audited the seminar. A highlight of our weekly meeting was each person sharing an intuitive experience from the previous week. This feature worked so well that I expanded it the following year to include a written journal entry for the experience. The oral version from 1993 became the first edition of the Intuitive Experience Journal which is now in its eight edition.
The undergraduate and masters level Managerial Decision Styles courses were renamed Intuition in Management to recognize they had evolved as a spin off from the doctoral offering. All three intuition courses shared the common assignment of keeping a weekly Intuitive Experience Journal. In addition, the MBA students followed a weekly practice which they reported in an Activity Journal. Finally the PhD students were responsible for reading assignments along with both journals. All three levels are now available in versions tailored to meet the needs of management training and development clients.