Balancing rationality with intuition.

Philonomist thanks for your article!

It brings an interesting perspective and tons of questions with it. It seems important, however, to be critical (while remaining open-minded) to new propositions, don’t you think?


1) First, I wonder the relevance of the authors’ analysis of today’s business and organizations’ environment through Henri Bergson’s thoughts on intuition.

I have to admit, I’m not familiar with Bergson’s literature and you can probably correct me if I misunderstood, but we’re talking about books written in the early 1900s, right? The context, the state of the sciences, and our understanding of the world were then quite different. This does not mean his position is irrelevant per-se, but it should not be overlooked and we still have to take it sparingly.

Question: how do you prevent yourself to fall into a confirmation bias by selecting only what fits with a pre-established conclusion? In other words, what’s your method to draw your conclusion, and then what criteria make Bergson’s point of view more relevant here?

2) Secondly, as I just talked about, our understanding of the human mind evolved since the early 1900s. We know more about our psychological traps, namely the cognitive biases, and this is exactly the issue with the said intuition. Not that it is a “bad thing” to listen to your intuition, but your advises maybe lack some acknowledgment of such phenomenon. Balancing “intellect” (our logical part) with intuition is indeed a hard thing to do, but whatever the “tool” you use for doing so, it should help you prevent some obvious traps.

To cite a few:

  • The Confirmation bias (and cherry-picking) by which one will search for and favor information that confirms preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. It’s soo common and it’s so easy to fall in. Unfortunately, intuition calls for it inevitably at some point and it’s a well-known cornerstone to false-belief construction.
  • The Authority bias by which one will attribute more credit to an authority figure.
  • The Halo Effect by which one will form an immediate judgment to someone/something else, only based on some physical attributes for instance compared to socially accepted criteria. (We generally call this “intuition”, by the way.)
  • The Fundamental attribution error (and Group attribution error) by which, in a given situation, one will generally emphasize someone’s internal motivators rather than external factors, in explaining his behavior.

Question: taking a step back, okay, but to listen to your intuition (the very one that leads to so many biases and interpretation errors) is it not a bit contradictory if the goal is to make thoughtful decisions?
Note, this question is voluntarily a bit provocative and I’m not particularly defending an “all-rational” position.

3) Finally, you assume a certain behavior that is yet to be proven: to summarize, people are too rational in the business world. As you do not provide any much proof and seem to talk about subjectivity and perception (your point of view?), let me share my point of view.

As a designer working in corporate environments for over 10 years, I can say from my own observations that people tend to use their intuition more than your article suggests. And most of the time, they use data, charts, and diagrams more to justify such intuition than truly being “rational”. It’s a perfect example of rationalization and confirmation bias. Our brain doesn’t like uncertainty (and so do businesspeople), and our biases play a great role in reducing this cognitive dissonance.

Therefore, while I totally understand and find truly interesting your development and conclusion — we need a better balance between intellect and intuition — I mainly disagree with what leads you to this.

Anyway, thanks again 👍