It isn’t what you think!

Intuitive thinkers and rational thinkers are sometimes not kind to each other in planning situations. Intuitive thinkers get “there” faster then go looking for supporting data. If they make too bold a commitment to their conclusion, they might end up not giving data its needed consideration.

Rational thinkers gather data, test possibilities, and from what is learned, try to move toward a well-supported action step. If they are unwilling to take risk, however, they might not ever act, thus becoming an even bigger problem than the one they tried to solve.

Rational thinkers sometimes accuse of intuitive thinkers of working backwards. Intuitive thinkers sometimes accuse rational thinkers of holding everyone back from moving forward because they are so mired in details.

The truth is, both types of thinking are needed for robust planning that becomes well-executed strategy. Another truth is that this is not about thinking backwards or forwards. That is, thinking really isn’t linear at all. Instead, thinking either goes outward toward action (intuitive thinking) or inward toward reflection (rational thinking).

An example would be that of making a piece of furniture. Outward is the vision for the finished chair. Inward is laying out the set of steps in sequence by which a chair is built. Outward is working from a deadline in order to place that sequence of steps into a sustainable and achievable timeline, which may be mashing up against other projects and their timetables and would have to be managed. Inward is making sure all the needed materials and tools are available at they precise time they are required.

Without the ability to oscillate between outward and inward capacities, something gets overlooked. Either a deadline is not met (because details are getting in the way without respect for a vision for the finished product), or an inferior product is built (because details were not attended to in a rush to move to the next big idea).

What type of thinking characterizes your approach? Is there a dominant style reflected in your leadership team meetings? How might you be sidelining others whose thinking style can make yours far more robust? How can you better welcome those gifts and make better use of them?