Are you data-led or intuitive? Unite data AND intuition to drive value

21 June 2024 • 6 min read


Plenty of business leaders are quick to acknowledge that being data-driven is key to unlocking and accelerating value in their organisations. However, for many of them there are still fundamental questions to answer around how to shift their businesses towards a culture that embraces data, and create the conditions for sustained success. What’s more, for those who are leading the charge in an increasingly data-driven world, it’s worth pausing for thought to consider the enduring value of human intuition, and the role it has to play in creating enterprise value.

This is illustrated by our research findings, where 48% of CEOs responded that the absence of a data-driven culture is putting their organisation at risk of failure. This shows that roughly half of business leaders are aware of the real and existential risks surrounding their approach to data, though whether they have a plan in place to deal with that is a very different matter.

On the other side of the equation, 42% of CEOs reported that they live in constant fear of a cyber/data breach. This should be a cause for real concern, and an important reminder that rushing into becoming more data-driven, without a clear business case or plan of action is rarely a good idea. Human judgement and intuition will always have a key role to play in successful organisations – data-led or not.

The question then becomes, is it better to prioritise quantifiable data over all else but run the risk of missing out on valuable human experience that can shape effective decisions? Or, rely mostly on the experience of your people, but potentially miss out on opportunities that may only reveal themselves through data-driven insights? Read on to learn more about shifting to an AND not or mindset, and finding a way forward that unites data AND intuition to accelerate value.


The shift to an AND not OR mindset


How to bring greater intuition to your approach, if you’re currently data-driven


A data-led approach makes obvious sense…for the most part. Not only can it give you confidence in the validity of the decisions you make, it can also lead to greater experimentation and innovation, as well as providing insights that may not otherwise be available – leading to previously unforeseen opportunities. However, there are unforeseen downsides as well. Data is only truly useful if it’s accurate, timely, and available – and even then the judgement and intuition of experienced people has a critical role to play in sense-checking and validating potential decisions. With that mind, here are our top tips to help make the most of your collective intuition and experience:


  1. Task your leadership team with considering how you can balance data-driven risk assessment with the willingness to take strategic risks when supported by intuition and experience.

  2. Ask yourselves whether you are leveraging your executive experience to provide a long-term perspective on industry trends and factors related to the market(s) in which you operate.

  3. Consider the fact that intuitive decision-making is often rooted in a deep understanding of people and organisational dynamics. Are you incorporating a people-centric approach into your data analysis, ensuring that human factors are considered in your decision-making?

  4. If you’re working with technology and/or delivery partners there’s also pertinent questions you should be asking of them, some great examples include:
  • Can you provide instances where your data solutions have supported organisations like ours in understanding and addressing human-centric decision-making factors beyond quantitative data?
  • How does your technology support rapid decision-making and innovation within organisations? For example, can you provide examples of how your data solutions have enabled clients like us to respond quickly to market shifts and emerging trends?
  • Can you help our organisation in creating, leading, or facilitating forums for our more experienced people to share their insights and intuition more widely?


How to adopt a more data-driven approach, if you currently rely on intuition


Experience and intuition are unlikely to ever be fully replaced, and that’s fundamentally a good thing. However, there’s a fine balance to be struck. In pursuing an approach driven mainly by intuition there’s a real risk that you might miss out on valuable insights that only data can provide. Furthermore, your decision making can very easily be slowed down by having a lack of data to draw upon, potentially squandering any competitive advantage you’ve gained from building an experienced team. That’s why we’ve put together some top tips to help you bring a more data-driven approach that will add value to your intuition, rather than replace it:

  1. Think carefully about the maturity of your data capabilities. Consider the key enablers like culture, data availability, your data security, and infrastructure and consider whether you have what you need in place to accelerate data-led decision making.

  2. Consider what key performance indicators you should be tracking to measure the success of our data strategy, and ensure you’re regularly tracking your progress.

  3. Determine whether your board and senior leadership is equipped with the right digital skills to lead your organisation in a more data-driven direction. If not, consider what upskilling you might need to put in place.

  4. For any technology and/or delivery partners you’re working with, be sure to ask them questions including:
  • What training, change management, and support services do you provide to help our teams embrace and utilise data effectively in their day-to-day operations?
  • How do you measure the success and impact of building a data-driven culture within client organisations like ours, and what best practices do you recommend for our organisation?
  • How can you support our organisation with data literacy programs to enhance understanding and usage of data?


Ready to accelerate value now? Embrace the juxtaposition of data AND intuition


CEOs - and by extension people across your organisation - need a profound shift in mindset, to look for the AND rather than the OR when it comes to embracing new technology. To unlock true value quickly from your technology investments you have to embrace the inherently juxtaposed concepts of data AND intuition. This can sound daunting but here are some proven approaches to set you up for success:


4 acceleration approaches to balance data AND intuition in technology:


  1. Start with your data strategy - begin by defining “why” you need to make use of data in your organisation, then use that as the basis of your strategy ensuring you include a clear vision and principles that are supported by your capabilities and team structures.

  2. Build the right data platform - once you’ve defined your strategy, it’s time to ensure you have the platforms to support your ambitions. It’s important to make sure you have the right architecture, data collection, and storage solutions to ensure your data is useful, secure, and accessible.

  3. Create a data-driven culture - platforms are nothing without the right people. It’s critical to ensure that everyone in your organisation understands the role they play in managing, updating, and securing your data. We’d recommend starting with clear communication around the role and value of data, as well as ensuring that people have access to everything they need.

  4. Ensure your people are enabled - this begins with making sure that you have the right policies and frameworks in place to allow people to maximise the value of your data. It goes beyond compliance and data security, to encompass ethics, as well as considerations related to data quality and transparency.



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