We make decisions all the time. As project managers, we make decisions not only for ourselves, but also for our project teams, stakeholders, and sponsors.

There are two ways that people make decisions: they trust their intuitions (their guts) or they analyze the information available. Analytical people (those who trust data) and intuitive people (who trust their guts) are often not very compatible. Analyticals feel intuitives make decisions too lightly. Intuivites feel analyticals get lost in the details of data and take to much time to decide.

There’s two sides to this coin

Both analyticals and intuitives have a point there.

Strengths Weaknesses
  • Always know the facts.
  • Understand the consequences of their decisions before they make them, every time.
  • Never base a decision on impulsive emotions.
  • Usually take time to think about their decision before they make it.
  • Tend to be more reactive than proactive.
  • Decision-making can be a lengthy process.
  • May suffer from analysis paralysis – when too much information actually prevents decision making.
  • Make decisions fast.
  • Have a keen sense of unquantifiable information, like non-verbal language.
  • Firmly believe in their decision, making it easier to convert other people to their cause.
  • Never agonize over a decision.
  • Tend to skip the details.
  • May not consider all affected parties in their decision.
  • May not communicate well the reasons behind their decision

Opposites or complements?

Reading the table above shows that a lot of the shortcomings of one type of decision-makers tend to be the strength of the other type. If you have both analyticals and intuitives in your team, it can be beneficial to your project decisions.

If the intuitive tells you “I don’t trust this bug, it’s going to be a pain in the neck to fix I’m sure,” it’s their experience talking through his intuition. If the analytical tells you “I’m seeing a 3% drop in our download times on the web site,” it’s their expertise identifying a trend. Both of their observations have value.

The best of both worlds? When the analyticals and the intuitives agree on a decision!