Real R.O.I is Return on Intuition

In my latest book, DO! The Pursuit of Xceptional Execution, I interviewed entrepreneurs from around the world. They are the leaders of some of the most compelling global brands and companies, ranging from one to 3,000 employees, with turnovers from $100,000 to $130 million. I call them the Xceptionalists. They hail from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Bologna, Italy; from Des Moines, Iowa to Galway, Ireland. They run app companies, consultancies, clinics and sprawling technology corporations. They all appreciate the crucial role their intuition plays in all decision making.

kevin kelly

Have you ever met someone, maybe a supplier or potential business partner, where your immediate reaction was negative? Maybe you’ve had a feeling about a certain project? You got a bad vibe but dismissed this information to your cost.

You’re not alone. Based on reactions from audiences from around the world, I can certainly say that many people are not using the most powerful tool in their business locker – their gut. Your intuition is a refined source of insight, a compass for your entrepreneurial journey.

All my life, my focus – my compass – has been my intuition. It is a knowing without the knowledge, a feeling, and an instinct. When I pay attention to these guiding impulses they always provided clarity in the dark.

One of the Xceptionalists featured in Do!, Ben Milne of Dwolla said, “I have had many times where I didn’t go against the logical argument put in front of me even though it didn’t feel right. It came back to bite me in the ass. I know the first impression thing is a bit clichéd but if you have a bad feeling about someone or a deal, go with the feeling. Otherwise it amplifies over time. By over thinking and trying to justify it, it only gets worse.”

Another featured Xceptionalist, Tim Clark from Business Model You, told me, “You have to trust your gut. The challenge is that people trust their gut less and less with all the analytical tools at their disposal. For me, many of my biggest decisions relied on my gut feeling. When I decided to move to Japan, many thought I didn’t know what I was doing. For me, at a deeper level, I was totally confident in the decision. It felt right. While there, I started a Japanese Internet company, which was the result of an informed intuitive understanding.”

Intuition is the entrepreneur’s most powerful tool. It offers direction and clarity at all times and all you have to do is listen to it. Psychological research backs up its effectiveness.

Even as far back as 1994, a survey conducted by by Jagdish Parikh – a Harvard Business School student – of 1,300 managers from nine nations revealed that respondents said they used their intuitive skills as much as their analytical abilities, but they credited 80% of their successes to instinct. A more recent global survey of 368 startups carried out by Geckoboard and Econsultancy in February 2013 also highlighted the importance of intuition. Its finding was that intuition is still highly valued in decision-making, with only 27% of respondents believing that data is crucial when it comes to decision-making.

Intuition plus execution is a powerful cocktail. Many entrepreneurs share my opinion that it can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line. You certainly can expect an ROI, a return on intuition.

Extracts from Kevin Kelly’s new book “Do the pursuit of xceptional execution”