Gut instinct & visual flight versus strategic thinking and acting.
BriefLetter - Issue 08/2013

Franz M. Schmid-Preissler

Prima facie this does not seem to fit together indeed. Acting from a gut instinct means acting in an emotional way, not lead by reason. This has nothing in common with acting strategically, one would think. And flying visually requires sufficiently good visibility on the ground and appropriate orientation. This does not necessarily sound like a targeted approach for the implementation of a long-term plan. And yet, gut instinct and visual flight have long been integral parts of successful strategic thinking and acting. We do not like to speak about it. Viable strategies allow more and more often for the freedom of visual flight and permit a healthy measure of an ‘inner logic’ in connection with prior experiences. This gut instinct, in the best sense of the word, makes a decision when there are certain reasons that suggest a different decision. The world presents itself with daily changes. Daily everything will be allocated new, chances and risks. It is often difficult to recognize or sense, what will happen in the next moment.

And yet we are responsible for what will happen in the future. A successful strategy (derived from the ancient Greek word strategos for military commander) requires a regular review of the decisions made today and will lead to the planned success tomorrow or in the long-run. Strategic thinking and acting requires creativity that is indispensable in an environment where complexity and indecisiveness are inevitable. Strategic thinking and acting is a process of single steps that is requiring creative margins and aimed at a goal.

Good strategies prevent any kind of automatism and they are shaped by visions and ideas. They are based on creativity and cannot be exhausted simply by numbers.

Peter F. Drucker mentioned in his concept Management by Objectives already 50 years ago, that a strategic target agreement in the daily operative work allows for reaping the unplanned, so that goals will be reached. Drucker spoke of the perception of the events that one is surrounded by. Strategies are no instruments allowing for blind flying. Acting according to directive is fatal for market-oriented strategies.

Flying visually & allowing gut instinct and integrating both into the thinking and action process want to be practiced thoroughly. I recommend practicing blind flying and developing the sense of a gut feeling. Surely, this does require a degree of courage. ‘Courage is at the beginning of actions, success is at the end’.

It is dangerous to act like there was no such thing as a visual flight and to banish gut instinct into the armory of management methods of the past. Emphasizing flexibility as a means to a successful strategy is often too non-point, in my point of view and it does not do justice to a target-oriented approach.

Let us rather talk about visual flight and gut instinct as integral parts of successful strategic developments. I have great respect for those responsible, who exhibit gut instinct in strategy conferences and with regard to critical stages advocate going on visual flight.

There is no such thing as visual flight and gut instinct versus a strategy-controlled thinking and acting. Both belongs together and result in a meaningful whole.


SchmidPreissler SchmidPreissler Strategy Consultants

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Editor: Dipl. Soz. Maximiliana Schürrle

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