I find it interesting how the idea of a “gut feeling” has become such a well-known term in our society today. Many people are swayed by that feeling in their lower intestine– but what’s to say this isn’t a grumbling stomach or a little indigestion? Some use their gut feelings to make a nerve-racking decision, while others trust it to just lead them to do what is right in an everyday occurrence. I am interested to know how this idea even originated. So interested, that I decided to turn to a commonly trusted site — obviously I mean Wikipedia. As I “wikipediaed” the term gut feeling, I was instantly redirected to the page on intuition and knowledge. The meaning of the word intuition actually comes from ” the Latin word ‘intueri’, which is often roughly translated as meaning ‘to look inside’ or ‘to contemplate” (Wikipedia). Aha! So gut feeling really comes from actually looking inside one self and contemplating on a decision.
In our reading of “The Smartest Guys in the Room,” people who worked for Rebecca Mark claimed that “she trusted her gut far more than any spreadsheet” (pg. 78) Since when is it acceptable to ignore the hard evidence of numbers and rely on a “gut feeling”? The claim made about Mark made me laugh and realize that the faults of Enron were staring everyone in the face; whether in Mark’s trust of gut feelings, or in fudging the numbers on spreadsheets. I tried to imagine myself completing a math problem, and instead of looking at the numbers to come up with an appropriate answer, I would just write down whatever my gut would tell me. Clearly this is just an absurd method — but why not at Enron? Mark would even go so far as to turn down confrontational remarks about numbers on a spreadsheet. Clearly this shows how stubborn she could be, or perhaps she just had a fortune-telling stomach with the ability to predict the future. Mark also seemed to let her optimistic attitude get the best of her. She wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, and clearly she made plenty, because she believed that “all the motion of activity would lead to something better” (pg.78). I think that this part of the book just really bothered me. I can’t see how such a prestigious and well-known company could have top executives relying on gut feelings and ignoring the numbers right in front of them. This is not an appropriate management style, even if it did help Mark get by in a small amount of areas. Maybe I am being a little extreme, but I have always been a very math/science oriented person. 1+1 will always equal two and a loss will always be a loss. Especially when it comes to dealing with such high figures, not to mention the reputation and fates of others, it seems ridiculous to trust personal intuition. If Mark is trying to decide whether she wants chicken or fish for dinner then fine, go with your gut feeling. But when it comes to deciding whether or not to invest millions into a project that has a red warning flag jumping out at you, then I say ignore the gut and let yourself be guided by the numbers. I understand that no risk means no reward, but big risk also can mean even bigger loss.