Laura Huang

The Real Role of Gut Instinct Managing Complexity and Extreme Risk

It’s one of the most polarizing pieces of advice that we hear: go with your gut. But Harvard Business School Professor Laura Huang knows there’s really something to it: she dives deep into the world of what drives people to succeed, and her findings might surprise you. Her research has found that success isn’t so much about the amount of talent you have or effort you put in—but about making the most of what you do have. And that’s what her groundbreaking concept of “edge” is: hard work, plus.

In this talk, Laura discusses her research on decision-making in organizations, and why the question shouldn’t be about data-driven decisions versus gut feel-based decisions. Instead, effective organizational outcomes are the result of understanding the set of rules that are inherent in any complex decision—which dictates whether more data actually helps us make better decisions. Bringing her diverse work and research background (having conducted dozens of interviews with investors and observing pitch meetings with entrepreneurs) to analyzing the role of gut instinct in making choices, Laura developed an in-depth understanding vital role that gut feel plays in managing complexity and risk—and the difference between big wins and playing it safe.

How can you work in a way that creates the most value for your efforts, and leads to the most success? In this compelling, cutting-edge keynote, she’ll show you how to access your own edge, and harness your gut feelings and natural grit to work for you—and enable others to do the same.

Objectives related to disrupting and innovating

  • Understand what the difference is between engaging in disruptive work, and simply being disruptive
  • Thinking of oneself as a “builder” as a more efficient alternative, and what the entails practically

Objectives related to cultivating grit, edge and gut instinct

  • Evaluate what you can do to modify decision-making processes in the work environment to be a symbiosis between data-drive and gut-driven choices
  • Learn how to manage complexity and risk in an informed way

About Laura Huang.

In the elusive pursuit of success, you need an edge, says Harvard professor LAURA HUANG, one of the top business school professors in America. Huang defines edge as “hard work, plus” and her talks illustrate how you can refine that “plus”—beyond talent, hard work, grit, and luck—as an individual, team, or organization. And if you don’t have an edge, you can create one, recognizing your strengths (as well as challenges) and leveraging them to your advantage. Huang’s talks show how you can make your hard work “work harder for you” by comprehending the factors that have little to do with your talent and effort—and everything to do with making the most of them.

How can our paths to success be a little easier? We all have biases working for and against us, says Laura Huang—author of EDGE, a hotly-anticipated book on the subject—whether it’s born confidence, or a lack thereof; established networks, or no professional contacts to speak of. If we learn what these biases are, we can empower ourselves to create personal success. In short: we’ll find our edge. “Hard work suggests something internal, whereas edge suggests that it’s both within you and contextual,” says Huang. “You need to own the context and your hard work.” Named one of the 40 Best Business School Professors by Poets & Quants, Huang’s talks will equip you to know who you are and how to use that knowledge strategically. Drawing on examples from the likes of previously-overlooked Olympians to Louis Vuitton assistants-turned-executives, Huang teaches you how to find your edge and keep it.

Huang’s groundbreaking research includes her work on “gut feel”—that sixth sense often written off as extraneous to success. In conducting dozens of interviews with investors and observing pitch meetings with entrepreneurs, Huang proved the vital role that gut feel plays in managing complexity and risk—and the difference between big wins and playing it safe. Prior to joining the Harvard Business School, Huang was an assistant professor of management at the Wharton School. Her research on gut instinct has been published in the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as featured in the Financial TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. Huang earned a PhD in management from the University of California, Irvine; an MBA from INSEAD; and an MS and BSE in electrical engineering, both from Duke University. Before entering academia, she held positions in investment banking, consulting, and general management for organizations like IBM Global Services and Johnson & Johnson, and served as an advisor to several start-ups in the US, Europe, Southeast Asia, and China.