Decisions based on Intuition vs. Data
In today's Sunday New York Times, there is an article in the business section devoted to Sanford Weill, of Citigroup. There I find this quote:
He was largely intuitive and his deals didn't come from plotting, planning and study; they came from his own instincts and connections.
And in the eGang group this month, Barry Diller explained why he bought his first web company, Hotels.com: he wasn't sure why, "It was nothing but instinct." In contrast, the biography of another self-made billionaire, Warren Buffett, starts with a description of how obsessed he is with numbers, with data, with information.
One of the questions a colleague of mine asks in job interviews is, On a scale of 1 to 10, do you make decisions based on data (1) or intuition (10). I liked this question. I answered 10. I make my decisions almost entirely based on intuition. Data, as I see it, can be molded to fit any agenda, and is based only on the past. Most decisions will impact only the future. Data is a good slave, but a poor master. And of course, there are decisions you have to make based entirely on data, i.e. this insurance policy provides the same coverage as that insurance policy, but is $500 cheaper.
The interview question is a bit of a trick question, however. It is more of a test of the person's ability to make decisions, to be decisive. The worst answer you can give is 5.