Start with Intuition

Do you look at data and check your gut to see if the data ring true?
OR
Do you check your gut and look for data to support your intuition?

Confirmation bias says that we often confirm what our gut says by looking for the data that matches.  In his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahneman says that we should start by objectively looking at data because human intuition is biased.  And though Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky won the Nobel Prize for this work, my gut tells me that we are missing something.  Yes, data can tell us things that our intuition is missing or biased against. But can our intuition tell us things that the data is missing or biased against?

Intuition has a wider span than data.  There’s nothing I like better than being surprised by data insights.  But data can only give insights into the scope of the data that was collected.  Here’s an example, you want to find out what is driving sales. You might compare sales fluctuations against your ad campaigns, economic events, competitor news, etc.  But if you’re not looking for a correlation with the weather, you won’t find that the weather is affecting your sales. And for those thinking that you have included weather in your data, track back to when you started including the weather.  I guarantee it was a result of someone’s intuition.

Confirmation Bias still exists.  I’m not discounting confirmation bias, it’s a real consideration. When you go with your gut, you need to build in checks and balances to check your gut.  

Trust your Gut.  Here’s the tricky part, what do you do when the data says you’re wrong but your intuition still tells you that you’re right?  Here’s where the art comes in. You’ve got to be open to being wrong, or biased, while still examining what your intuition is telling you.  

Sometimes you’ll discover that your intuition was really a bias, perhaps it’s based on an insecurity or a past experience.  Sometimes you’ll discover that your intuition was signaling that there was something lurking, and you’ll be glad you looked into it.

How has your intuition served you? How has it been wrong?  Let us know!