Why Analytics Demands Intuition


Evidence versus intuition. Data versus experience. It’s so easy to take one of these sides and let the blood sport of the old versus the new play out, and it seems clear which is winning. We’ve seen leaders in an HR program, for example, switch to algorithm-based hiring and firing decisions, and the ROI is unmistakable and intoxicating. The rush to push out intuition as an “old way” of business is accelerating, and the rush is supported by many voices in the profession. Adam Grant, author, organizational psychologist, and speaker writes:

“I think we are leaving the age of experience and moving into the age of evidence. One of my big goals professionally is to get more leaders to stop acting on intuition and experience—and instead be data-driven.”

What’s happening here has its roots in the concept of dialectic: two seemingly opposing sides battling it out to the bitter end, where only one is supposed to survive. Adam and others are a corrective to the old guard of experience and intuition guiding businesses at all levels. But by being a reaction against the old methods, their reasoning has not yet approached what’s called synthesis, which finds a “third way” beyond apparent contradictions. Analytics Guild was founded to represent this third way, the path to analytics mastery.

Practically speaking, every world-class performer turns a simple activity into one of power and elegance. Think of da Vinci’s paintings or a jump shot by LeBron James—moments where rigorous training meets perfect intuition, where each is able to do exactly what he’s trained for and transcend his training. Mastery is the integration of the highest achievements of a skill with a “sixth sense” that allows you to leverage the skill in new and powerful ways.

In analytics, we do find organizations with robust technical capabilities melded with deep creativity. The data scientist who presents some advanced simulations in a way executives can immediately understand. The executive who doesn’t settle for the dashboards of today in the quest for an ever-sharper image of financial health. The lead ETL developer who can produce an immediate state of flow and deliver that data when it’s needed most.

Analytics mastery demands that professionals journey ever-deeper into the realities of business and data while integrating these with the human—our intuition, experience, decision-making, and judgement—in order to reach a higher synthesis. Analytics Guild was founded so that nobody needs to make the quest alone. And one of the best parts of the journey toward mastery? It multiplies our professional fulfillment, effectiveness, and our daily sense of passion.