Managerial intuition is a harmful myth

By Andrew Mcafee   Article

“… we’ll all be better off if we stop placing so much weight on the intuitive judgments of ‘experts’ — those who have risen to the top of their professions or hierarchies due, typically, to some combination of education, experience, tenure, previous success, and moxie. The business world, of course, is full of experts. We have financial analysts, product planners, business unit managers who hire people and assemble teams, marketing VPs, and an endless variety of consultants, pundits, and gurus.

And their ‘expert’ (read: intuitive) judgments – about whether a stock will rise, how a new ad campaign will go over, how a competitive battle will play out, which products will succeed in the marketplace, whom to hire and promote, and so on – should be received with great skepticism. In fact, they usually shouldn’t be received at all.

This is because human experts are overconfident, inconsistent, and subject to a swarm of thoroughly documented biases, most of which they’re not even aware of. What’s more, in many cases they’re making their confident predictions in areas where accurate predictions just aren’t possible. If anyone tries to tell you what the price of gold will be in six months, or who’s going to be on top of the high-tech industry in 2020, excuse yourself as quickly as possible.”

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