The Bias in Going with your Gut

by | Aug 1, 2019 | Change, Learning |

What does your gut say? What feels right in your gut?

You’ve probably been asked these questions before and, if you are like me, you’ve probably asked them yourself of friends and colleagues. They sound like good, solid questions. Perhaps they make us feel a bit like we’re channelling our inner Malcom Gladwell (Blink anyone?) even if you don’t have hair like Malcom.

And while I’m a big believer in gut decisions, I’ve recently realised the bias it has. Stepping back for a moment, if I think about gut decisions, they are the ones that tend to ‘feel’ right, they ‘feel’ in line with me, my values, my life thus far. Obviously this is good. However, it often allows very little room for something different, uncomfortable, a new perspective. It can squash vital and difficult questions rather than open up a space for wrestling with them.

This is true of the individual and of a group. The group ‘gut feeling’ has parallels in group think, which can cause disaster.

I’m learning it is still important to ask the question of ‘what does my gut say’ but then explore why it feels that way – is it simply scared of something different? And where possible seek evidence for the gut perspective and alternative perspectives.

At the same time, gut decisions can lead us through a place of fear and ground us; sometimes gut decisions are terribly scary, but we know we need to make them. Digital transformation or organisational change projects often are uncomfortable, yet still needed.

Understanding your ‘gut’ is important, especially when you combine it with other voices and perspectives.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao


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