Data Vs Gut Instinct: Making Smarter Business Decisions

Many business leaders have used instinctive decision making to make great business decisions.

Steve Jobs, in 2010, predicted that the tablet would overtake the PC in sales, and went ahead to launch the iPad regardless of the statistics and naysayers.

This paid off big time for Apple.

In 2015, a Gartner Research showed that the iPad outsold the traditional PCs in millions.

Although Steve Job’s decision paid off, it isn’t exactly a win for gut business decision making as there’s the example of Motorola CEO, Gregory Brown.

In 1998, Brown ignored all indications that the mobile phone was taking off and instead invested heavily in satellite phone technology. The product failed woefully and cost Motorola billions of dollars.

For business leaders all over the world, the question is which way to go;

Instinctive Decision Making or Data Driven Business Decision?

There’s no straight answer to this, let’s start by looking at the basics.

So, What is Data?

Data is defined as facts and statistics collected together for analysis, reference and inference purposes. It refers to existing information or knowledge collated in a form suitable for better usage.

Data is gathered, measured and analyzed. The concept of data is commonly associated with scientific research, where data is collected and used by various organizations and institutions such as government to evaluate crime rates, literacy, unemployment, budget expenditure, etc.

instinctive decision making

With the evolution and advancement in technology, man has grown to outsource the choice of decision making to more credible and measurable means gotten from hard facts and years of data mining to come up with a logical and verifiable background for making decisions.

This method proved more effective as it could be explained as against saying to a potential investor – “I feel so” it provided a more practical and verifiable explanation for deciding on a business venture.

What Happens When Guts Clash With Data?

You have a business idea which runs parallel to the conclusion of data, but resonates down with your gut; the age old internal decision pointer which is unexplainable and unverifiable or with modern, verifiable factual data, suppressing your guts, stifling the conception of an idea.

Data is liable to change, in the sense that what holds now may not be in a couple of hours. Just like business constantly changes to accommodate customer needs, data adjusts as well to reflect the present fact of which we know is viable to change.

instinctive decision making

While guts on the other hand cannot exactly be explained It has been known to be more often right than wrong, still the chance of a “wrong” exist and to be honest not exactly what you want to find out at the end of investing so much capital and energy.

What to do?

Use both.

Pad up that gut feeling with research, and support it with data. Peradventure they run in different poles and your gut feeling isn’t “induced.”

The Nigerian country manager of, Maria Rotilu advised that you start up small, test the waters with a little bread at a time. That way you’re able to learn the mechanics of the business while able to better monitor, tweaking where necessary and quickly evaluating the scalability in the long run.

With this approach, even if the business does not survive, you’re able to pull out with minimal loss.


With business, whether data informed or gut inspired, you must make sure you’re passionate about it and willing to adapt to changes, because at the end of the day, when data seems to fluctuate and the gut seems to be silent; passion, determination and dexterity will bring it home.

Here is an infographic from Casino Blog that compares instinctive decision making to data driven decision making to give you more knowledge on the subject.

instinctive decision making

instinctive decision making

instinctive decision making

instinctive decision making

instinctive decision making

instinctive decision making

instinctive decision making

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