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Chili and your intuition

8 ingredients for making better strategic decisions.


August 28, 2013
By Jeff Mowatt

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As a business owner or manager, what you ultimately rely on most when deciding your company’s future, is your intuition.

As a business owner or manager, what you ultimately rely on most when deciding your company’s future, is your intuition. Effective leaders hone their intuition the way a chef cooks a pot of chili. Like chili, intuition needs to include the right ingredients and then be allowed to simmer a while. Here are eight ingredients for you to stew on.

1. Get customer coaching
Even as a senior executive, you’ll end up making better decisions after spending some time at the front line talking directly with customers. Ask them the key question, “What can we do to improve our service?”

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2. Listen to those in the know
It’s an understatement to point out that Sam Walton had good business instincts. Wal-Mart’s founder said, “Listen to everyone in your company, especially the ones who actually talk to customers. They really know what’s going on out there.” ’Nuff said.

3. Ask your competitors – really
I’m not just referring to visiting your competitor’s store. If you are in a service industry there may not be a store per se to visit. One of the best ways to learn from the competition is to join your professional trade association. I’ve always found that when it comes to joining a professional association, the more you get involved and contribute to the group, the more you ultimately receive.

4. Read by listening
Business books are filled with great ideas, providing you actually read them. As a time saver, consider buying your books on audio so you can listen while driving. I subscribe to a service that sends me summarized audio recordings of two business books each month.

5. Get some seminar smarts
Some folks seem to think that once they complete their formal schooling, there is no need to continue with their education. That’s like exercising in college and then figuring we can sit on the couch for the rest of our lives. Learning isn’t an event; it’s a lifelong endeavour. Make a practice of attending seminars and training sessions. A bonus of learning with others is that you have the opportunity to exchange ideas, network, and – provided you have a skilled facilitator – end up having some fun and stress relief.

6. Learn the unwritten rules
You may have a wonderful new idea for your company, but if it clashes with the culture, you’ll soon face resistance and subversion. Savvy individuals learn where the company has come from so that they can reinforce and uphold closely held values as they introduce change.

7. Clarify your code

We all read the headlines of high-profile managers facing criminal charges. Apparently, their primary moral code is maximizing short-term profits at all costs. Increasingly, individual managers are being held personally accountable by shareholders, government regulators and consumers for their ethics. When making strategic decisions, ask yourself, “Is this the right way to conduct our business?”

8. Get smarter by going slower
When it comes to honing your intuition, keep in mind one of the great myths in business is that you need to fill every waking moment with activity. After attending a presentation by Patricia Katz on “Permission to Pause” it occurred to me that those individuals, particularly managers, who slow down and reflect are often the most creative, adaptive, and, ironically, productive.
When you take all these ingredients, mix ’em up, and chew on ’em a while, chances are you’ll end up making wiser decisions for your organization.


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This article is based on the critically acclaimed book Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month, by customer service strategist and professional speaker Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com or call 1.800.JMowatt (566.9288).