No Hunches

I was following a Nowhere Hunch,
A real dumb thing to do!
Everybody sometimes does it.
Even me. And even you.
Oh, you get so many hunches
that you don’t know ever quite
if the right hunch is a wrong hunch!
Then the wrong hunch might be right!”
—Dr. Seuss, in Hunches in Bunches

Searching the Internet for wisdom on business and hunches today, I realized there are two camps on the subject.

The No Hunches Camp

Dr. Seuss, one of my heroes for thinking on all sorts of subjects, is clearly in the “No Hunches” camp, where my sympathies also lie. When it comes to parting with your firm’s money, hoping to make more of it, I want you to use all the research you can to make your decisions.

The Run-With-It Camp

To some degree, everyone is intuitive. Just because you can’t explain your hunches doesn’t mean you shouldn’t profit from them.” —Mark Diener, in Entrepreneur Magazine, Feb 2003

Keep trying. Finally, trust your hunches and don’t give up.” —Pepi Sappal, in, Jun 2004

Profits are great, but no guarantee with hunches as your guide. Business hunches are so often just like ripping up dollars and tossing them out the window. Putting blind trust in a hunch is problematic, but trusting and not giving up if warning bells go off later is just butting your head against the wall.

Bring in the Balance

It came to you in the shower: the Big Idea for promoting your business…. Before you blow your money on hunches, however, you need to do your homework…. [Save] yourself a big neon headache.” —Gwen Moran, in Entrepreneur Magazine, Oct 1999

If you have a sound, overarching Vision for your firm’s growth, hunches will come to you at those awkward predawn hours, while waiting for a delayed train, or while watching your son’s karate practice. Quiet moments away from the office can produce the kind of visions that give Vision a bad name.

Best practices:

  • Step away from your hunch
  • Write it down, flesh it out
  • Get outside Perspective
  • Back it up with solid research
  • Make sure it works with your long-term Purpose

Tim Berry sums up the dilemma nicely:

… [The] existence of research too often means that managers aren’t able to think freely and decide for themselves. The educated guess factor is shot down [and you] can’t have hunches…. So here’s another planning paradox: research is good because it educates the educated guessing…. But research is also bad because it clouds our vision, hides its own flaws, and discourages innovative thinking.” —Tim Berry, in his blog Planning, Startups, Stories

The real tip: No hunches that you haven’t examined, researched, and integrated with your plans.

Don’t “run with it” when your money and your future growth are on the line!

Grow and be well,


Kelly Erickson