I love words that capture the essence of the thought. Perspicacity is just such a word. It is the quality of having ready insight into things. This chapter is predicated on developing the keen sense of insight. Insight, by the way, is the capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing. One could conclude that insight is built on intuition, the sixth sense.
But, the problem with intuition, as we learned in the last chapter, is that it is good at feeding us the quick answer, it is often the wrong answer because it does not benefit from analysis that flows from statistical thinking. Intuitive thinking has another fault that highly affects the process of developing insight. It only works on situations you have already experienced. The intuitive response is a function of memory.
In his book Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman related the explanation of a Herbert Simon, a student of chess masters. Simon explained their move-making skills this way: “The situation has provided the cue; this cue has given the expert access to information stored in memory, and the information provides the answer” (Kahneman, 2011, p. 11). While it seems to be magical, intuition is nothing more than déjà vu; and we have all experienced some form of having been there before.
Seeing intuition as a poor explanation for insight, William Duggan (2015) wrote: “Your intuition works only when you encounter something very similar to what you’ve seen before. If the situation is new, your sixth sense isn’t enough” (p. 3). Much as we learned about the difference between technical and adaptive challenges, if the situation is new, something you have never experienced, intuition is not going to provide the solution.
Duggan raises the need for a seventh sense and has developed a process as a means to tap into new ideas. He considers the seventh sense a skill that one can develop and call upon to deliver epiphanies … those moment of sudden revelation or insight.
So, how do we experience true insight?
Duggan draws upon the famous military strategist Carl von Clausewitz for the formula for developing the seventh sense. In his book On War, von Clausewitz outlines four elements he used to new ideas essential to successful war strategy: (1) Examples from history, (2) Presence of mind, (3) Flashes of insight, and (4) Resolution. (p. 13)
Briefly, this is how it works.
- First, your brain takes in and stores examples of history for possible future use, a natural process. The more life experiences one has to draw, the greater the possibilities. In creative thinking, your brain makes new combinations. So, the seventh sense does not just give you a new idea, it is an idea that is unique to you and your memories of personal experiences.
- The second element, presence of mind, is the ability to see a situation free from clutter, distraction, and peripheral detail. Simply stated, you maintain an open mind uncluttered by presuppositions. The desired result is that your mind disconnects from your current goal and permits the entrance of new possibilities.
- This provides entrance to the third element, the flash of insight itself. If you have ever experienced a moment of insight, it provides a depth of clarity that is formidable. You see a new course you had never experienced.
- The fourth part of Clausewitz’ scheme is resolution, meaning you don’t just see the new course, but you are compelled to follow. As with all parts of the seventh sense, this is a highly personal experience.
The book expands on the original Little Green Marketing Book because today more than ever we need to incorporate sustainability into all of our business practices; and green equates to sustainability. The principles delivered in the revised edition focus on creating organizational skills by developing the individual abilities of the members of the firm. Marketing is no longer sustainable through promises—customers and employees demand substance to back up the claim.
Duggan, W. (2015). The seventh sense: How flashes of insight change your life. New York: Columbia University Press.
Khaneman, D. (2011). Thinking fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.