Regardless of the factors that have shaped a manager′s use of intuition, many avenues are open for developing an intuitive orientation. Preparing style assessments and keeping an intuition journal lead to significant organizational payoffs as intuition in general and the wisdom of intuition in the large are accepted and encouraged in managerial decision making.

Preparing Style Assessments

Through the use of a personal style assessment tool such as the PSI, the rational-intuitive preferences of a management team are profiled to discover individual and group decision patterns. For each individual, the strategy profile summarizes preferences for the three orientations each in the rational zone and the intuitive zone. Using the profile, individual strengths in both zones are matched to tasks and responsibilities that require those orientations.

The strategy profile also highlights opportunities for an integration that makes full use of all orientations and for a flexibility that feels at ease shifting from one orientation to another. In an organization profile, managers are arrayed in a "U" shape from the most rational to the most intuitive around the center of balance for their organization. This rainbow of styles stresses the impact of manager differences on the ways an organization prepares for the future, solves problems, and approaches work. [Follow the link Display Rainbow of Styles Example to view an organizational profile and the paired opposite, similar, and dissimilar teams based on that profile. Use your browser's back button to return to this page.]

In its simplest form, style assessment in a team setting encourages integration and flexibility by encouraging appreciation for less preferred styles. Management exercises emphasize the relative contributions of different styles to organizational outcomes and the importance of freely moving among style orientations. Using paired opposite, similar, and dissimilar teams to explore these organizational issues brings these perspectives to the forefront. Learning about the contrasting preferences of colleagues acquaints managers with styles they avoid.

Extremes that reflect lack of flexibility or integration are identified, and those individuals are encouraged to explore the complementary orientations. In an advanced form, personal action plans are prepared to develop flexibility and integration by reducing reliance on overused preferences and increasing reliance on overlooked orientations. These team initiatives offer powerful techniques for underscoring the value of style integration and flexibility.

Keeping an Intuition Journal

Given an appreciation for style preferences, managers are encouraged to develop their intuitive sense using a journal. Although many ways to strengthen intuition are recommended by the experts, our experience suggests that an intuition journal is the most practical way to develop a manager's awareness of and reliance on intuition.

Maintaining a journal encourages reflection on the dimensions of intuitive experience and sensitizes managers to habitual patterns in their ways of relating to decisions. Preparing an intuitive self profile based on several entries, individuals discover opportunities for expanding their intuitive decision horizons. Connecting with intuition in the large flows naturally from this deep self-exploration of the intuitive zone of experience.

Figure 3 identifies steps in exploring the elusive qualities of intuitive experience. A brief entry is written to capture the theme indicated for each step in order to tease out the subtle dimensions of intuitive experience. The process begins by describing the intuition along with what was happening just before and just after. The latter themes are valuable in helping managers learn what triggers an intuition and how they react when one occurs. Step two attunes managers to the ways their fears, desires, and mental clutter distort their intuitive experience. Attention is given in step three to the rational-intuitive mix and the degree to which the intuitive aspect of the mix draws on intuition in the small (internal) and intuition in the large (external).

Figure 3 – Steps in Intuition Journaling

diagram of abbreviated steps in intuition journaling

By reflecting on these subtleties, step four focuses attention on the variety of forms and kinds intuitive messages assume. In step five, the intuitive content of the message is reviewed in terms of its strength, clarity, and accuracy. Finally in step six, the use and benefits of the intuition are evaluated, and the person states what they learned about intuition. By opening to the full spectrum of the intuitive zone through the journaling process, managers acquire an appreciation for intuition in the large as they first experience and then journal the role of wisdom in their decisions.

The journal process produces an experiential record of what happens when an intuition occurs. The reflective process emphasizes the self exploration needed to discover the subtleties of intuitive experience. This reflection includes unsuccessful intuitions as well as those that hit the bull's eye. Managers often learn more from intuitions that miss the mark than those that are on the money. When intuitions are noticed, managers find them to be numerous and to deal with routine occurrences as well as strategic decisions. When it is encouraged, intuition thrives in a manager's decision making. [Follow the link Display Abbreviated Journaling Guidelines to download blank journal forms, instructions, and examples to explore your intuitive experiences. Use your browser's back button to return to this page.]

Organizational Payoffs

Working toward flexible, integrated rational-intuitive decision making generates a self-sustaining critical momentum for intuitive awareness. Using style assessment, team exercises, and journaling to explore the role of intuition in decision making stimulates subtle shifts in an organization's climate. Foremost among these, intuition in the large plays a greater role in routine as well as strategic decisions. As managers discover their colleagues rely on intuition, members of the group become more open to their own experiences.

Together they discover and support different forms and kinds of intuition to deal with decisions. This appreciation for diversity generates a sense of acceptance for knowledge and wisdom. When managers reach beyond themselves into intuitive wisdom, they access the fabric of wholeness shaping organizational change. From the wisdom source in the web of connection, the management team discovers the direction of their organization's destiny.

When the wisdom of being complements the information and knowledge of doing in decision making, a sense of spirit permeates an organization. This shift encourages the yearnings of the soul to find expression in the workplace. Then managers' innate creativity readily flows into their daily responsibilities. As the creative spark is kindled, work takes on new meaning. Robert Frost eloquently captured the qualities of this transformation:

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to
Unite my avocation and vocation
As my two eyes make one insight.

Only where love and need are one
And work is play for mortal stakes
Is the deed ever really done
For heaven and the future's sake.

When individuals are comfortable expressing their intuitive as well as rational selves at work, the complementary habitual rational and spontaneous intuitive styles are recognized and used. In this setting, integrated, flexible managers nurture a dynamic, robust climate for their organizations as they confront the challenges of electronic globalization in the 21st century.

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