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A leisure activity for all of us, but also a source of research and study, business periodicals help keep us in the know. There is a heap of them, and they can be more palatable than manuals, graphs and reports. We read them to keep up with developments in the industry and to live the adventure vicariously through others. If we admit that we are vulnerable to the same mistakes and force ourselves to contemplate how we would react, it may improve our decision making, and help us avoid the mistakes others have made.

Over time, by combining these “lessons learned” with your own experience and judgement you may begin to develop a sort of ESP about your operations. No, not the sports channel: Extra Sensory Perception. Its perception occurring independently of any sensory process and includes telepathy, clairaudience, clairvoyance, precognition and retro cognation. A tantalizing hypothesis, nut at this point in our evolution, one still considered by most to be baloney, and I agree. However, the Spidey-Sense” that experienced leaders develop is a real and proven trait. It’s called intuition.

Intuition is like your peripheral vision, you don’t notice it unless there is something to see. It comes from the recognition of things you’ve experienced before: sounds, the timing of events or their sequence, temperature and visual clues. When one or more of the hundreds of recognized and practiced sensory inputs are out of place, we get an alert – something just does not feel right. Intuition is a realization or conclusion that occurs rapidly. Some might mistakenly use the word instinct. Instinct is an inborn pattern of activity common to a given biological species. Birds build nests, spiders spin webs, and salmon swim upstream because of instinct. Most human instincts are subdued by reason. Intuition is a proven phenomenon of the human mind and describes the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. When you see a small detail of a familiar product you instantly recognize the larger design. Your intuition is what fills in the rest of the picture. When confronted with a choice or situation, we use intuition to help us complete a mental picture so as to recognize what is happening and what to do about it.

A critical element of developing useful intuition is having enough experience to recognize when something is amiss. That means getting out on the plant floor, and often. Practice direct observation as often as possible. Talk to your team members at every level in the organization and participate in problem solving activities. Nurture relationships that provide operational insight and engage in conversations with your customers as frequently as possible. Intuition can be a useful tool to help you navigate the turbulent waters in your business. You will not be able to get the experience you need to develop your intuition by only reading accounting and production reports.

“At times I feel certain I’m right – while not knowing the reason” – Albert Einstein

(Thanks to Kevin Dingman for his insight)

Lean Learning Center

The Lean Learning Center was founded in 2001 to address the gaps and barriers that are holding back companies from successful and sustainable lean transformation. In addition to the advanced curriculum, the Center has developed a learning environment designed specifically for adult learning utilizing techniques that include discovery simulations, case studies, personal planning, and reflection – ultimately engaging people at a deep and personal level. We bring our unique lean understanding in creative ways to executives, managers, supervisors, change agents and front-line employees.

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