Strategic Intuition

James Schrager

Experts develop deep domain knowledge that often allows them to exhibit a “sixth sense,”  said ChicagoBooth professor James Schrager. … Strategy may be poised to be the next field revolutionized by the same concepts that have made behavioral economics and behavioral finance hotbeds of new ideas.

It all flows from University of Chicago PhD and Nobel laureate Herb Simon, who introduced the concept of bounded rationality that states that people don’t consider all alternatives as they decide most things, only a subset. The way we choose that subset is often the secret to how well–or poorly–our decision will turn out.

Simon indicated it took about ten years to be really good at something. Once there, you develop an “intuition” about how to make decisions. Simon believed these intuitions, although seemingly appearing from nowhere and often without conscious thought, are patterns you’ve previously learned. It is these patterns that can be of most use to strategists.


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Creating the Organization’s Values & Vision



I tell my CEO executive coaching clients, prior to the executive offsite, that the CEO can dictate the values statement, perhaps with some team input on word choice. If the organization’s stated values are not entirely consistent with the CEO’s personal values you are in for a rough ride. The CEO must embody and have an emotional commitment to the vision, so it largely comes directly out of him or her, too. I like to start the offsite at a dinner where the CEO clearly and emotionally states the values and vision. Then, with those guideposts, the team can get to work on strategy, tactics, milestones, etc.

A question naturally emerges when I suggest this sequence: what about the executives who do not share the CEO’s values or vision? This helps smoke them out early and by “out,” I mean resigning from the company. Any compromise on values is a step into the abyss, what Bion called “non-work.”