The Art of Business Judgement

The art of business judgement draws on both analysis and synthesis, on a capacity to understand the whole as well as constituent parts. Developing a capacity for good judgement requires us to systematically develop our imagination and draw on the imagination of others. However, the nature of business is that managers can never know everything. Like Eisenhower on the eve of D-Day, the greatest leadership challenge is to make an effective judgement in the face of incomplete data and ambiguity. These are the judgement calls that really matter.

Analysis is the process of systematically assembling and logically treating data and information so as to solve a problem or yield a result that is reasonable and defensible. Over time, the process of analysis has been codified into approaches that segment problems into manageable steps. The scientific method is one example of codified problem solving, as are trademarked rationales such as “The McKinsey Way” or the Microsoft software development process. 

In contrast, synthesis has its origins in a Greek word that originally meant “to place together”. Great synthesisers such as Eisenhower seem to generate an instant conception of the whole and in the process“place the pieces together”in imaginative and creative ways. Synthesis and intuition are closely related. Intuition is, according to scientist William Glaser, “a not fully self-conscious application of knowledge and experience.” Originally, intuition referred to “spiritual insight” from the Latin “intueri” which meant to “consider or contemplate” or “to gaze upon attentively”. Good analysis is more of a science whereas synthesis is an art. 
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Stuart Jones,
11 Mar 2015, 16:24