Making effective and efficient decisions under high uncertainty that lead to creative ideas and successful new products is the core challenge of the Front End innovation manager. On the 23rd of June Katrin Eling and Reinier Halbertsma presented in Eindhoven in a masterclass organized by the PDMA cutting edge research findings on successful decision making in this messy getting-started phase and discuss the implications of these findings for Front End management practice.
Intuition is required in the Front End! That was the Hypothesis Katrin Eling started with. She did an experiment to evaluate product ideas using intuitive and rational evaluation techniques. The outcome made it clear that both intuition as rationality is needed for better decisions. There are a few watch outs though. Katrin made it clear it’s important to reflect on own intuition: What is the situation, what are the goals, what information do I have? Next to that it’s important to reflect in a group: who’s intuition should we trust?
Reinier Halbertsma also pleaded for the use of intuition in front end decision making yet not ignoring the challenges that go along with this. An eye opener was his categorization of intuition in expert intuition (the fireman making a split second decision to evacuate based on the thing he senses in the burning building) and the entrepreneurial intuition. Especially the latter can certainly be wrong. He came with a few very good tips to avoid those mistakes as much as possible yet making use of intuition.
The discussion about the use of intuition after the presentation made it clear clear most people in the room thought intuition was a very important part in the front end development process. The difficulty with intuition however is that it does not work as a strong argument to convince others so intuition is often rationalized afterwards. Openly admitting using intuition is not commonly practiced. Naturally the use of intuition is still for the larger part unexplored territory in which much knowledge is yet to gain!
Albert Einstein had a nice quote Reinier referred to in his presentation which is maybe appropriate to summarize the general feeling we had after this masterclass:
‘The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift’
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