We have a feeling they're full of it — intuition, that is. Use you own intuition to take our multiple-choice test. We knew this was coming. We just had a feeling!
In the 1980s, consultants told managers to base decisions on logic, data, and cold, hard facts. In the millennium-crazed 1990s, decision-making has gone decidedly New Age, with recent books by so-called "intuitive consultants" telling us to enroll in the Jedi Knight School of Management.
The Fast Company Consultant Debunking Unit (CDU) got in touch with its intuition by sampling the published wisdom of three Yoda wannabes who promise to teach you what you already know. In Practical Intuition(TM) for Success (HarperCollins, 1997), consultant and best-selling author Laura Day says, "To succeed in business is not a matter of 'beating the competition.' It's simply a matter of being who you are."
Not to be outdone, consultant Barrie Dolnick declares, in The Executive Mystic (HarperBusiness, 1998), "We've all got psychic tools, and we all use them, all the time. Most of us just don't know what we're doing." She introduces readers to "nontraditional tools, such as colors, scents, stones and executive oracles."
Looking for deeper wisdom? Take a look at The Hidden Intelligence (Butterworth-Heinemann, June 1998) by consultant Sandra Weintraub - who claims that intuition "can become our personal servant." Her book promises to turn up the volume on your intuition until it "roars so loud at times that you want to jump up and down and scream, 'YES!' "
Are you in touch with your Inner Consultant? Use your intuition to guide you to the correct answer for each of these multiple-choice questions:
1. Your grandmother has asked you to invest her nest egg in the stock market. You try to tell her you're no stock expert, but she insists. To do the job, you:
a) call Dionne Warwick on the Psychic Friends Network for investment advice.
b) immediately turn the money over to a trusted, professional fund manager.
c) picture an apple. Picture a second apple. If the second apple is larger than the first, you immediately put the money into the stock market - which you now know will go up tomorrow.
2. You're in Saskatoon on the last leg of a mind-numbing road trip. Your meeting ends early, and you immediately race to the airport, hoping to land a standby seat on the next plane home. To increase your chance of getting on board, you:
a) slip an extra $50 to the gate agent.
b) look up your frequent-flier mileage and cite the figure to the gate agent.
c) grab a clear crystal, point it toward the sky, and ask aloud for it to send your energy onto the flight of your choice.
3. Your R&D shop has brought you three new product options that could represent the future of your business. But you have the resources to pursue only one. To choose the right new product, you:
a) put together a series of focus groups in Silicon Valley to project the future market for each new product.
b) put together a series of meetings with venture capitalists to raise enough money to do all of them.
c) put the name of each product into an envelope and seal it. Then pick up each envelope and feel its energy. You bet the company on the envelope that sends you the strongest sense of positive energy.
4. As a recently promoted team leader, you are bombarded all day long by questions from your team members. Everyone is looking to you for answers - and you don't always know what to say. To be a good decision-maker, you:
a) call a team meeting and tell people to make their own decisions on small issues - and to bring you only the problems they can't solve.
b) stay later and later at the office, gathering information so that you can give the right answers to tough questions.
c) tie a small weight to the end of a string to build a makeshift pendulum. Ask the pendulum one of the questions that your team has brought you: If it moves back and forth, the answer is yes. If it moves side to side, the answer is no. If it goes in circles, the pendulum is confused by the question.
5. You find yourself in the middle of a complex negotiation involving so many people that the number of human interactions risks sinking the deal. To make the whole thing more manageable, you:
a) focus all your attention on the one person who is the linchpin in the deal.
b) use email and the Net to set up a simple but effective communication system that will keep everyone up to speed on the deal's progress.
c) list three of the people whom you've dealt with regularly. Imagine that you are an octopus with a tentacle around each one of them. By holding that image in mind, you make the whole deal doable.
6. It's the big break you've been waiting for: After toiling for a year as a drone, you're tapped to be a team leader. Do a good job, and you could find your career in overdrive! To assemble your make-or-break team, you:
a) go to the company's intranet, where resumes of available team members are posted - to pick a team with the right mix of experiences.
b) go to the company's intranet, where the results of Myers-Briggs tests are posted - to pick a team with the right mix of personalities.
c) go to the company's intranet, where the birthdays of potential team members are posted - to pick a team with the right mix of zodiacal signs.
7. You've established your new goal in life: You no longer expect to win an Olympic gold medal or the Nobel Prize for literature. You now wish to be richer than Bill Gates and George Soros - combined. In order to secure your financial future, you:
a) enroll at the Harvard Business School.
b) drop out of the Harvard Business School and move to an obscure state like Washington or an obscure country like Hungary.
c) get in touch with your intuitive side. After all, the one thing that Gates, Soros, and other rich guys share is intuition. They are successful because they are intuitive - and they are intuitive because they are successful.
A version of this article appeared in the June/July 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.