A sensemaking analysis (what’s the story here?) of Elon Musk’s approach to decision-making is marginalised to the hunger for a juicy Twitter feed, and yet it reveals an insight into the human condition that is often cloaked by the perceived need for conformity.
‘We have recently been granted a glimpse behind the curtain of how arguably the best fundraiser in the world, Elon Musk, raises funds. He raises money, not based on numbers or complicated models, but based on vibes’, writes Sven Schnieders on Substack.
Sensemaking, and thus Organisational Sensemaking, forms a life-critical building block of human decision-making, developed over millions of years. Flight or fight decisions take less than a second to make because our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not have the luxury of time. If they were confronted with a threat, they had to act immediately, or they would die. Logic or rational decision-making processes have been refined through socialisation (civilisation), a relatively recent stage of our evolution. The race between the two is not even close.
When Elon Musk [ac]claims that he uses ‘vibes’ to augment his decision-making, it reflects his belief in the power and benefits that intuition plays in the decision-making and actions of people particularly, of course, himself! The critical difference being that Musk can afford (emotionally and financially) to run with his ‘vibe’, unencumbered by the orthodoxy and governance that he believes slows down less nimble and adroit decision-makers. Note, however, how Musk’s unfiltered Twitter comments create tensions and difficulties with the more regulated ‘thinkers’ exemplified by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Leaders who form rapid decisions based upon experience and skill are not, necessarily, ‘winging it’ if they are using informed improvisation. Elon Musk operates at the far extremes of risk margins balancing on the genius/reckless axis, but then, he is the richest person in the world and clearly has a strong case to make for himself. Fortunately for other leaders who are required (by the conventions of their own organisations) to augment intuition with reflection and qualification, technology now better enables the democratisation of organisational sensemaking rather than having to rely on the vision of a mercurial superstar. It permits the whole of an organisation’s population to contribute their own intuitive perspective of threat and opportunity in real time and with real authority.
Photo by Florian Schmetz