When faced with the decision to capture Osama bin Laden. President Barack Obama decided to ‘sleep on it’ before authorizing the raid that would eventually see the death of Al Qaida’s terrorist leader.

Most of us won’t make such huge calls in our lifetimes, but research from Harvard Business School suggests that when faced with complex decisions, letting the unconscious take over isn’t such a bad thing.

The conscious mind is great when you need to play within certain rules. For example, you are told to buy a car that is below $30K. On the other hand, the unconscious is good for more complex issues. You need to find a car that suits your lifestyle, which your husband will like and that is fuel efficient, so you school yourself in the facts and then put the decision off to tomorrow.

Every day, executives face challenges that can be solved with a little creativity. Often you are dealing with complex personalities and factors beyond your control, but the buck stops with you and something needs to be done/said. Taking time out to go to the gym, or listen to music – or just doing something that is completely unrelated – gets the unconscious working.

Thanks to Pedro Simko, Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Switzerland, for the article. It works for me.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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