When to trust your instincts as a manager

Humans have been honed over millions of years of evolution to respond to certain situations without thinking too hard. If your ancestors spotted movement in the undergrowth, they would run first and grunt questions later. At the same time, the capacity to analyse and to plan is part of what distinguishes people from other animals. The question of when to trust your gut and when to test your assumptions—whether to think fast or slow, in the language of Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist—matters in the office as much as in the savannah.

Deliberative thinking is the hallmark of a well-managed workplace. Strategic overhauls and budget discussions are built on rounds of meetings, memos, formulas and presentations. Processes are increasingly designed to stamp out instinctive responses. From blind screening of job applicants to using “red-teaming” techniques to pick apart a firm’s plans, rigour trumps reflex.

Yet instinct also has its place. Some decisions are more connected to…

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This article was written by and originally published on www.economist.com