Maree Faulkner, ex CEO The CEO Institute

I met Maree Faulkner, the CEO of The CEO Institute when I contacted her to request an interview for this book. The CEO Institute has a membership of Chief Executives from non-competitive industries who meet and exchange information as a peer support group.  Maree readily agreed to talk with me, and we met at her office to discuss her views on the role of intuition in business. 

A highly articulate, intelligent, diminutive and forthright woman, Maree has held senior positions in government and private enterprise. Intuition has always played a dominant role in her business life. She spoke to me in a confidential tone about her move to a philanthropic evidence-based organization from her earlier positions in Government Social Policy:

I had come out of a world where intuition had been very much the accepted norm, leading to action. I came from a background in social policy where intuition is often the driving force and the basis of your direction and your decision-making. I had moved into a rigidly scientific, evidence-based world, and it was fascinating because I encountered people who just thought completely differently to me. It took a long while to work out why there was this tension until I realized it was not only that the overt evidence base mattered, but also that the starting point for their thinking was different.

In the world I had come from, and for me personally, intuition is very much the way that you make decisions.

The bureaucratic structure works counter-intuitively; the process would not in any way encourage or enable intuition.

I asked Marie, “How did you accommodate the change in organizational thinking?” 

I think people build structures around it [decision-making] to justify what is often based on intuition. If I go back to my experience in government, how much of the decision-making process is really intuition-based! By ignoring that and by pretending it’s based on other things, people are not extending their intuition.

If people had greater acceptance that ultimately their decision-making is largely intuitive, they could be more overt about the values or world views that underpin it and possibly use their intuition better — instead of believing that it’s all terribly rational and evidence-based decision-making.

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