Making Best Use of Intuition in the Supply Chain

In the 4th quarter 2018 edition of CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly there is article entitled “What is intuition in the Supply Chain”. That is where people fit in to this massive data process logistics and supply chain has become. Even as there is more data every year.

Think about a truckload rate bid (RFP) that may have happened somewhere in your career. There was a carrier that RFP which bid low in the lane and you knew from experience that there was just no way that the carrier was going to perform the service needed at a rate that low. So you wisely choose to route that lane to another carrier.

The article describes intuition as this:

“We tentatively define intuition as a three dimensional information retrieval process in which the decision maker establishes: 1) connections between the current and past events, 2) positive and negative gut feelings are evoked, and 3) a decision is made rapidly, automatically, and without much awareness.”

So how can you best use intuition in your decision making processes? Intuition is not like a mathematical formula that has set outcome. In reality it just may show up unannounced. Blocking it out of your decision making may even lead to a blown or poor decision. But when should one question it intuition?

I am troubled by the without awareness part of the definition above. Lots of money is used to collect and present data and there is somebody in the organization who is usually totally aware of everything about this data. But that data will never be the complete pictures no matter how much there is of it. It is an important part but not the total picture. So when you your gut and your experience tells you something in the total pictures is missing, should you not be aware of what this process is all about?

So be curious about the intuition you are having. Can you tell where it is coming from? You remember experience A was really bad but will Experience B which will the outcome of the decision be really as bad in potentially different circumstances? What are the numbers not telling you? How can you justify the decision to yourself, your superiors and most importantly to your customers?

Even if there those not seem to be intuition in the decision making process, there is some quiet judgement going on that the numbers are all you need. So take a moment to smile to yourself and ask yourself what is it that makes me comfortable with these numbers. Again, be curious about yourself.

Don’t let a lack of awareness of intuition’s influence, make less than an optimal decision.

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