Do you “trust your gut” or rely on data in business?

In episode 46 of Ian and Andrey interview Jeffrey Way from Laracasts. It’s a great interview for lots of reasons but a section towards the end really jumped out at me.

Jeffrey said something about how people want to complicate business but very often what it comes down to is a gut feeling that something will do well. Ian went on to say how doing things based on “gut feeling” was not popular with the growth-hacking crowd who are all about data and metrics and measuring.

Like Ian I’m “big on the gut”. While I see the value of measuring and checking on the assumptions that might be behind those gut feelings, the fact remains that when I have listened to that feeling – both in terms of whether to do something, or not to do it, things have turned out pretty well.

I do think however that those of us best placed to listen to gut feelings are perhaps on the more experienced side of the fence. We’re in most cases older than the typical startup founder, and with age comes life and industry experience. Once you’ve been around the block a few times; once you’ve earned your stripes slogging away in a job or client work; once you’ve embedded yourself in an industry and been part of it for years your gut becomes very accurate in predicting outcomes.

The “startup lifestyle” suits the younger person. You can’t work every hour in the day and live in the office if you have a young family, or just the range of interests and commitments that develop as you grow older. I wonder how much that world loses by making itself not an option to those of us who have the experience to be able to trust the gut.

One Comment

Martin Rowe August 1, 2014 Reply

I heard the interview and it also struck me – and I’m not a spring chicken. My gut(experience?) tells me that the wrong thing to do now is to analyse the concept of ‘trusting your gut’ – how long until there are books, conferences, etc on this that become ‘hot air’ :).

Logical vs Intuitive? – you can’t get it all from books.

What he is talking about relates to instinct and I wonder if women are better at this than men – I don’t know – and that is fine as well.

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