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Think smart, develop strategic intuition

By Jan Vincent O.Ong |

Business slumps are sometimes caused by the inability of enterprises to keep pace with change, and many a company often plays a game of chess against time to find the right market opportunities. When an easy solution to an unfamiliar or complicated problem is not forthcoming, they throw up their hands and won’t trust their gut feel either for a breakout solution. This explains why some companies can sometimes boom one day and go bust the next, clueless as to what to do with the situation confronting them.


Dr. William Duggan, a business strategy guru from the Columbia University Business School, aims to change all that by showing entrepreneurs how to take out the guesswork from their decision-making. His main focus is developing a thought process that he had dubbed as “strategic intuition”, or how to readily think smart in any situation. It is, in a nutshell, a way of thinking prudently before taking action.



The outcome that strategic intuition seeks is understanding, and the creative spark that Prof. Duggan calls the “Aha!” or “Eureka!” moment, a true breakthrough solution or idea. He explains the thought process in his book Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement.


A reading of the book and an interview with Prof. Duggan tended to indicate that strategic intuition is still in its infancy. This seems to be the reason why he is very careful not to provide a step-by-step guide for HR on strategic intuition; instead, he tells various success stories and interjects into them the different concepts that he had incorporated into his idea. For instance, he offers examples of the use of strategic intuition from the French Revolution, from Eastern philosophies, and from the current IT revolution.


Simply put, says Duggan, strategic intuition is not expert intuition based on technical work experience but rather a result brought about by elements from one’s immediate environment. He cites the great French General Napoleon Bonaparte as an example. He argues that the then inexperienced general—he had almost zero war experience—was able to conquer the port of Toulon in France because of his extensive knowledge of war history and maps, not because of personal battlefield expertise.


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