Despite the availability and reliability of quantifiable data, trusting one’s instincts should take precedence when it comes to the decision-making process – this according to a June 2014 joint survey conducted by the global advertising agency gyro and FORTUNE Knowledge Group.

The study, targeting the topic of emotion in business decision, elicited responses from over 700 senior executives, almost 90 percent of whom held the position of Director or higher.

According to the results, more than six in ten of those surveyed think that hard data and analytics was secondary to human insight when it came to making good business decisions. In addition, other “soft” factors held equal, if not greater importance than quantifiable data, including the need to rely in hunches and personal intuition when it came to making assessments and final decisions.

This corroborates results of an earlier 2014 study showing that 75% of executives preferred relying on their personal business acumen in the decision-making process. That study revealed that if a conflict between available data and personal intuition existed, more than half of the executives surveyed would re-visit and review the data, while only one in ten indicated that they would pursue the course supported solely by the information. Furthermore, 62 percent responded that unquantifiable factors hold greater import than statistical analytics.

The gyro/FORTUNE study showed that problems with data and analytics themselves create the problems that push decision makers to relying on “gut feelings.” Among the most frequent reasons cited were an inability to properly interpret data (almost 40%), and an overabundance of data and the hyper-delineation of information categories (34 and 31%, respectively).

This trust in emotion and personal instincts also held true when it came to B2B relationships and interactions, with 70 percent citing a company’s reputation as more important than its product or service quality (63%) or financial strength (only 50% cited this as most important).

And, while only ten percent of respondents thought that the personality traits of company leaders were important, more than 40 percent thought that businesses whose employees had strong interpersonal skills and personal insight were to be preferred over those relying mostly on analytical intelligence and abilities. When discussing B2B marketing, emotions such as hope, desire for recognition, and ambition were as important as reason and facts when it came to presenting to those responsible for final decisions.


Marketing Charts. “Majority of Business-Decision Makers Say Human Insights Should Precede Analytics”; July 2014.