Richard Bailey highlights the value of intuition with a reference to Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink which is a great read. The book isn’t advocating acting without thinking as it shows knowledge and experience underpin the ability to make an immediate judgement.
Another excellent book on the topic is Stuart Sutherland’s Irrationality, which is sadly out of print (but I obtained a copy via Abebooks). Sutherland, like Myers isn’t quite so supportive of intuition, giving evidence also of its failures.
As public relations practitioners, I believe we need to understand this aspect of decision making. In the past 20 years or so, a modernist approach has been apparent with theories and models developed to help guide a more scientific, planned approach to our work. These link into the belief of rational management which proposes that a logical approach based on research and evaluation is the answer to any problem facing organisations.
But, in the face of an overload of information – as highlighted by Gladwell’s New Yorker article on Enron (see previous post) – and operating in a rapid, 24-7 world, where people power is evident, an understanding of chaos and complexity theories are required.
For me, this is one of the most interesting areas of the syllabus we’ve studied on the CIPR diploma course this year. The post-modern perspective of Holtzhausen and Murphy’s complexity theory, both raise interesting matters that could improve the practice of Public Relations.
Richard also mentions a new book A Perfect Mess, that argues for disorder as an element of success. I’ve always felt the reason for my messy office is that I have been genetically or socially programmed to be untidy as it runs in the genes of the Liddiment family (as I was born). Now, I can take it as a sign of being efficient – if only I can find what I was looking for….