In Sönke Ahrens words, intuition is the "sedimented experience on which we build our conscious, explicit knowledge." To intuit good ideas, we must first consume good ideas.

As Daniel Kahnemann argues, we can hone our intuition through the acquisition of and mastery of knowledge. No idea comes from nowhere; they are built from the The more information we have at our fingertips, the more receptive we are to flashes of insight. Knowledge accrues compounding returns. Each idea creates multiple connections with other ideas, as our constellations of thought grow exponentially vast and complex.

Our consumption should be broad: if we focus narrowly on a specific area of expertise, we can give ourselves tunnel vision and miss important signals from adjacent spaces. By seeing connections in unexpected places, we increase the odds that our insight will be unique and powerful. A good strategist needs to be able to look at old things in new ways; consuming ideas from diverse sources can help us find new vantage points. Self-styled near-futurist Rohit Bhargava makes a point of reading magazines published for audiences or demographics that are completely remote to his experience; doing so, he argues, helps him spot trends and patterns that otherwise would have been blindspots.

Not only that, we need to be able to process that information. According to Hubert Dreyfus, simply acquiring and memorizing facts is only the first step toward learning something. As our skill grows, we move beyond memorized rules and become better at recognizing patterns in the data we have. From there, we grow to become more skilled at filtering the good information from the noise, before building a strong sense of how the information connects together holistically, rather than as a set of discrete facts. Finally, with true expertise, we're able to leverage that accumulated information and experience to intuit a decision without necessarily needing to consciously analyze the situation.


Related

Citations

Ahrens, Sönke. How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking – for Students, Academics and Nonfiction Book Writers. Sönke Ahrens, 2017.

Bhargava, Rohit. Non Obvious Megatrends: How to See What Others Miss and Predict the Future. Ideapress Publishing, 2020.

Dreyfus, S.E., and Hubert Dreyfus. “A Five-Stage Model of the Mental Activities Involved in Directed Skill Acquisition.” Distribution, February 1, 1980.

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Anchor Canada, 2013.

Madsbjerg, Christian. Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm. Hachette Books, 2017.