Is Intuition Required for Innovation?

Phil McKinney
7 min readJan 31, 2023

Introduction to Intuitive Thinking

Intuitive thinking, sometimes called ‘thinking on autopilot,’ is based on prior experience and mental shortcuts. It involves using heuristics and pattern recognition to make decisions quickly and efficiently. Intuitive thinking is essential because it allows us to make decisions without pausing for conscious analysis or deliberation. This helps us react swiftly when we don’t have enough information or time — which is common in innovation.

One can argue that intuitive thinking is essential to everyday life. It allows us to save energy and make decisions more quickly than if we were attempting to analyze every single detail of a situation. It also allows us to see/intuit things that are not obvious such as solutions to problems others do not see.

Furthermore, intuition often helps us make better decisions than conscious thought processes alone. Studies show that we can trust our instincts in specific scenarios, such as predicting the outcome of sporting events or guessing the answer to a problem before checking the answer key.

Intuitive thinking has drawbacks, however, as it relies upon past experiences, which may not always lead us in the right direction. Personal biases and assumptions may influence and cloud our judgment. As such, we must take time out from relying on intuition periodically and instead use conscious thought processes more deliberately when making decisions.

Example of Intuitive Thinking

An example of a person using intuitive thinking to innovate can be seen in the story of Henry Ford and his development of the Model T automobile. Ford had a vision of making an affordable car for families, and he knew he needed an innovative solution.

He began experimenting with different designs and materials until he eventually settled on mass-producing vehicles. However, it was more than the technical specifications that made this decision successful; Ford also relied…



Phil McKinney

Excited about innovation and creativity? Welcome! 🥳 // CTO of HP (Ret) // CEO @ CableLabs // Innovation Mentor and Coach // Author // Podcast Host //