Why don´t we use our common sense more frequently?

Some time ago a marketing brochure fell into my hands that said something like “your brand matters to you, you do the best for it, you listen to the consumers, you have an MBA, you´re up to speed regarding the competition” and all the other things that a self-respecting marketer should know and do, “we have a message for you”. After that it showed very graphically how you are no different from the other thousands of brand managers doing exactly the same thing (there was a little drawing of the model marketer and it repeated itself to infinity).

Some years ago, some marketers realized that to really stand out they needed to make a greater effort, think differently, and use more sophisticated thinking and management models. Some do it alone, others with the help of an agency or consultant. Overall, the thinking has become more professionalized. And of course this has benefitted the industry, the problem is that the hyper-preparation has made the topic not only more professionalized, but also much more complex. Today there is a tendency to look for convoluted explanations for certain events or facts. We look for answers in theories, in models, we review data bases, and we conduct 17 group sessions. All of this to have certainty, to have a perfect outcome. We don´t want to fail because there is so much at stake: the brand, your trajectory, the thousands of employees who depend on it, and of course your post, the one you worked so hard to reach. All of this generates a syndrome of inaction which instead of worrying us should put us to work.

How to make decisions and overcome this inaction? By daring to do it. Understanding that years of dedicating ourselves to this has provided us with a particular eye, ear and touch, and above all don´t forget that we have an ace under our sleeve. An ancient answer, an antidote to inaction: common sense. We have heard about it over and over again but in marketing it isn´t necessarily used very often. It´s as if a type of blindness is generated in our industry: too many sources of information, too many theories, too much isolated data which dazzle us so much that they don´t allow us to see.

Have you ever run into a brilliant CEO, CFO or CMO? Listen to him, pay attention. They tend to explain things in an extremely simple way. When we go to them with a problem, how many times have they said something totally dictated by common sense? Sometimes we feel embarrassed, because they said something that should have been obvious to us. Why didn´t we think of it? What do they have that we don´t? The answer is probably that we over- analyze because we doubt ourselves. .

Nowadays many coaching strategies focus on reinforcing self-confidence. When we believe in ourselves we will use common sense to our favor to get us out of obstacles and discomforts. Listening to what your trained intuition tells you can give you the solution that you are looking for so badly.

The other side of the coin of over-intellectualizing are the answers that seem the most obvious and common placed rather than brilliant answers. They are not rubbish, they are known in Psychology as hueristic or cognitive shortcuts. They are this very human tendency to make things easier than what they are. Our brain is programmed to look for abbreviated methods to ensure survival. In the modern world where there are no mammoths nor glacier eras, some of these thoughts are maintained; we react instead of reflecting, we keep old habits instead of questioning their validity.

Using common sense is not as easy as it seems. The more accustomed we are to thinking in a certain way, the greater the possibility that unreflecting and automatic thoughts will end up taking the place of common sense. The challenge is to let go of both: acting automatically as well as inaction generated by over-analysis. Overall, general sense depends on not over- complicating the situation, by applying experience and general knowledge to the specific context of the problem. It is nothing more than self confidence in the fact that your past experiences will be valid for solving future situations.