Strengthen Your Intuition Muscle with This Activity

A graphic showing intuition as wavy lines circular lines and rational thinking as vertical lines on a graph.

“My gut is telling me this is a good idea.” Often, we’re more comfortable uttering this phrase when we’re talking about choosing a restaurant for dinner than when we’re in an important meeting at work. Why is that? 

Dwayne Edwards, a senior portfolio director at IDEO and instructor in IDEO U’s newest course Leading Complex Projects, says intuition is a powerful tool in the workplace. But we need practice and encouragement to apply it in the right way. 

Dwayne uses this activity at the start of a new project to help his team get comfortable tapping into their intuition. You can also do this exercise individually. As you progress through a project, document your gut feelings and decisions and review them from time to time. You’ll find that sometimes you were right and sometimes wrong. Sometimes it was luck, and sometimes it was something more.  

Activity: Test Your Intuition

    1. Gather your team at the start of a new project. It’s important that you’re still in the early stages.

    2. Pose this scenario: Imagine we need an answer today. What’s your solution?

    3. Give people 3-5 minutes to write down their ideas. Keep it brief.

    4. Invite your team to share their ideas. Make sure to set the understanding that this exercise is about tapping into intuition—no one will be held to their idea or judged if the team goes in another direction. What ideas or solutions spark interest? What feelings arise?

    5. Write down the possible solutions shared by each team member.

    6. Once your project is complete, bring up the intuition list again. Was anyone’s gut leading them in the right direction? What intuitive guesses were way off? What can each individual learn about their intuition from this exercise?

    Intuition is almost never the only signal you’ll rely on. It can be helpful at the start of a project to guide your exploration, but expect to bring in research and data, too. To build your intuitive abilities, you have to practice listening to that little voice inside your head that says “I think this could be a great idea…” 

    “If you’ve done the work to build good intuition, you should listen to it,” Dwayne says. 

    Learn an adaptable approach to deliver stronger outcomes in changing conditions in our online course Leading Complex Projects.

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