In last week’s blog post we looked at some of the most common reasons business plans tend to suffer – when leaders ignore available information, if necessary data isn’t acquired in time to make decisions, when data is available but leaders fail to analyze it accurately, and if leaders choose to overlook certain key details. This week we’ll be looking at two main types of thinking leaders engage in, and how they contribute to accurately processing relevant information when making important decisions.

Two Types of Thinking

Of all the skills leaders require today, perhaps none is as challenging as adequately processing information. The ability to spot holes in data, conceive solutions, and analyze results calls for sharp thinking.

Thinking can be broken down into two primary categories, suggests Harvard Business School Professor Max H. Bazerman, PhD, in The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See, intuitive and deliberative.

We employ intuitive thinking during crises, when immediacy is required. Our thinking is instantaneous, with emotion as a factor, and it produces reactionary responses. We make use of immediate information, or that which initially impacts our senses. Sudden information is generally incomplete, incorporating whatever is available at the moment.

By contrast, leaders sift through information, take time to gather data and draw conclusions when employing deliberative thinking. Such thinking is reasoned and structured, diving deep into the issues at hand. We gather data from non-immediate sources, compiling and assessing it to make a more systematic evaluation.

Leaders frequently—and unnecessarily—put themselves in the intuitive-thinking mode, Dr. Bazerman asserts. They over-rely on speed, neglecting to step back and analyze data. Consequently, they avoid doing sufficient research and make ill-informed decisions and plans.

Leaders fail to use information efficiently in three distinct ways, each with a specific cause and solution. We will be looking closely at each of these ways in the coming weeks.

I encourage you to take a moment to evaluate how often you employ these two forms of thinking. Are you utilizing intuitive thinking more often than is necessary? Is it causing you to miss important information and make less than ideal decisions? See if you can switch to a more deliberative mode of thinking in situations that aren’t truly crises.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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