Strategic Intuition

Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Strategic Intuition
    Book Description:

    How "Aha!" really happens.

    When do you get your best ideas? You probably answer "At night," or "In the shower," or "Stuck in traffic." You get a flash of insight. Things come together in your mind. You connect the dots. You say to yourself, "Aha! I see what to do." Brain science now reveals how these flashes of insight happen. It's a special form of intuition. We call it strategic intuition, because it gives you an idea for action-a strategy.

    Brain science tells us there are three kinds of intuition: ordinary, expert, and strategic. Ordinary intuition is just a feeling, a gut instinct. Expert intuition is snap judgments, when you instantly recognize something familiar, the way a tennis pro knows where the ball will go from the arc and speed of the opponent's racket. (Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this kind of intuition in Blink.) The third kind, strategic intuition, is not a vague feeling, like ordinary intuition. Strategic intuition is a clear thought. And it's not fast, like expert intuition. It's slow. That flash of insight you had last night might solve a problem that's been on your mind for a month. And it doesn't happen in familiar situations, like a tennis match. Strategic intuition works in new situations. That's when you need it most.

    Everyone knows you need creative thinking, or entrepreneurial thinking, or innovative thinking, or strategic thinking to succeed in the modern world. All these kinds of thinking happen through flashes of insight-strategic intuition. And now that we know how it works, you can learn to do it better. That's what this book is about.

    Over the past ten years, William Duggan has conducted pioneering research on strategic intuition and for the past three years has taught a popular course at Columbia Business School on the subject. He now gives us this eye-opening book that shows how strategic intuition lies at the heart of great achievements throughout human history: the scientific and computer revolutions, women's suffrage, the civil rights movement, modern art, microfinance in poor countries, and more. Considering the achievements of people and organizations, from Bill Gates to Google, Copernicus to Martin Luther King, Picasso to Patton, you'll never think the same way about strategy again.

    Three kinds of strategic ideas apply to human achievement:

    * Strategic analysis, where you study the situation you face * Strategic intuition, where you get a creative idea for what to do * Strategic planning, where you work out the details of how to do it.

    There is no shortage of books about strategic analysis and strategic planning. This new book by William Duggan is the first full treatment of strategic intuition. It's the missing piece of the strategy puzzle that makes essential reading for anyone interested in achieving more in any field of human endeavor.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51232-9
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 Flash versus Blink An Introduction to Strategic Intuition
    (pp. 1-10)

    It’s an open secret that good ideas come to you as flashes of insight, often when you don’t expect them. It’s probably happened to you—in the shower, or stepping onto a train, or stuck in traffic, falling asleep, swimming, or brushing your teeth in the morning.

    Suddenly it hits you. It all comes together in your mind. You connect the dots. It can be one big “Aha!” or a series of smaller ones that together show you the way ahead. The fog clears and you see what to do. It seems so obvious. A moment before you had no...

  5. 2 Revolution on Earth Flashes of Insight in Scientific Discovery
    (pp. 11-24)

    In the late spring of 1543, the great astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus lay on his deathbed in Frombork, Poland. He was seventy-one years old, paralyzed on his right side, and failing fast in sight and mind. His followers brought straight from the press the first printed copy of his life’s work, On the Revolutions of Celestial Orbits. On that same day, May 24, Copernicus died.

    That deathbed book launched the scientific revolution. The laws of science came to replace the hand of God as the moving force in the workings of nature. Nearly a century and a half after Copernicus, the...

  6. 3 Two Halves of a Brain Intelligent Memory in Neuroscience
    (pp. 25-38)

    How does a flash of insight give you an idea for action? For a long time scientists believed that this flash of insight came from the right hemisphere of the brain, where creative, imaginative, and intuitive thoughts occur. The left hemisphere of the brain handles logical, analytical, and rational thoughts. In 1981 Roger Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his research on the two-sided brain. In his Nobel lecture, he noted the following:

    The same individual can be observed to employ consistently one or the other of two distinct forms of mental approach and strategy, much like two different people,...

  7. 4 Lieutenant M Saves Your Life Expert Intuition in Action
    (pp. 39-54)

    This chapter takes intelligent memory out of the neuroscience lab and into real life. In the laboratory you give your subjects one task at a time and study how they do it. In real life you decide not only how to do a task but also which task to do. Does intelligent memory work for both? Deciding which task to do means setting a goal, and deciding how to do it means choosing a course of action. The result is a strategy. In intelligent memory this strategy comes from a flash of insight that brings past elements together in your...

  8. 5 The Corsican Conquers Europe Coup d’Oeil in Classical Military Strategy
    (pp. 55-68)

    In the history of strategy 1810 stands out as key for two reasons. First, 1810 is the year that the word strategy entered the English language. That is very late for an ordinary English word: tactics, in contrast, entered English in 1626, nearly two centuries earlier. Second, 1810 is the year that Carl von Clausewitz became a strategist. He was thirty years old at the time, an ambitious Prussian army officer with an intellectual mind. He entered the Berlin War Academy as a student in 1801, the year it was founded, and he graduated three years later at the top...

  9. 6 Warrior Buddha The Path to Beginner’s Mind
    (pp. 69-82)

    We now turn to Asia, where we find a tradition of military strategy very different from the formal scholarship of Carl von Clausewitz. Strategy in Asia comes in the form of ancient philosophy: Hindu, Buddhist, and Tao. In content, though, East and West have much in common. We find strategic intuition in both. The form is different, but the idea is the same. For example, Buddhists aim to be one with the universe, and it’s a flash of insight that makes it happen.

    Military strategy and Asian philosophy might seem to be an odd match. In the West, Asian philosophy...

  10. 7 Gates and the Google Guys Go for It Strategic Innovation in Business
    (pp. 83-118)

    Our next field of action is business strategy. Here we find a recent example of major change that matches Kuhn’s scientific revolution from Copernicus to Newton: the revolution in personal computers—PCs—from Microsoft to Google. The scientific revolution from Copernicus to Newton took 170 years, yet the PC revolution from Microsoft to Google took only 23 years. That speaks volumes about developments in modern business. Both revolutions changed the world, but the second one much faster than the first.

    The great success of the PC revolution serves as an outstanding case of what all businesses seek to some degree:...

  11. 8 Mouse, Minister, and Moneylender The Art of What Works in Social Enterprise
    (pp. 119-148)

    Business has it easy. If strategic intuition changes your goal—like Gerstner’s switch from hardware to integration—at least you keep to your overall purpose, which is making money. Same with science, as when Kuhn’s flash of insight switched his goal from showing how Aristotle was wrong to showing how Aristotle was right. Kuhn still kept to his overall purpose of advancing scientific knowledge.

    In the social sector you don’t have the same freedom to modify your goal. Social agencies state a noble mission and funders give them money to carry out the mission. Strategic intuition often changes your goal,...

  12. 9 Picasso Dines with an African Sculpture Creative Combination in the Professions
    (pp. 149-164)

    Strategic intuition is good business. It’s scientific. But is it creative?

    Combining past examples might seem just mechanical. Intelligent memory as a warehouse with elements coming off the shelves to fit together—it sounds like Sears filling a catalog order. Where’s the creativity in that?

    The word create has two meanings: to bring something into existence and to produce through imaginative skill.¹ Schumpeter’s notion of creative destruction fits the first definition: entrepreneurs create. The key creation that strategic intuition produces is the strategy itself. That’s what the strategist brings into existence. It is a creative act by the first definition....

  13. 10 Do We Do Dewey? Teaching Strategic Intuition
    (pp. 165-178)

    John Dewey is the most famous educator of the twentieth century. Starting with My Pedagogic Creed in 1897, to his death in 1952, Dewey led the shift from traditional to progressive methods of instruction. Instead of lecturing students on theories and facts the teacher guides them in self-directed discovery.

    Today you find progressive methods from nursery school through graduate school. Harvard Business School applies these methods to teaching business in general and strategy in particular. Their famous case method “redefines the traditional educational dynamic in which the professor dispenses knowledge and students passively receive it.”¹ They put Dewey’s essay, “Thinking...

  14. 11 Kennedy Shoots for the Moon Progress Through Opportunity
    (pp. 179-186)

    America gave the world the philosophy of pragmatism and also its opposite.

    Our pilot course on strategic intuition begins with students picking which statement they agree with more, A or B.

    Pragmatism and strategic intuition lead to B. But most students answer A. In workshops with business executives, army officers, and nonprofit leaders the results are the same: A. Non-Americans tend to answer B more, but the longer they’ve been in America the more they seem to answer A.

    Why is this? Once you read through A word by word you cannot possibly agree with it. Where did this idea...

  15. Index
    (pp. 187-194)