Gut Check Time! Do You Trust Yours?

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November 30, 2016 by Mark Hammerstrom

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”

― Peter F. Drucker

“The straight line, a respectable optical illusion which ruins many a man.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

We have become a data driven world. Today decisions, especially those which are high risk, are increasingly based on ‘what the numbers tell us.’  Perhaps rightly so. We get so much input from so many sources that it is hard to simply sort it all out in our heads.

Data drives just about every business these days; even in sports this trend is obvious. Baseball has its “sabermetrics.” So does football in its own way. In fact, just look at the number of teams using tablets on the sidelines, instead of paper, to get a better sense of what is happening on the field and make faster decisions.

Yet, hardly a Sunday goes by when I don’t hear one analyst or another say: “What they are doing is just not working…time for the (offense/defense—take your pick) to do a ‘gut check!’

A gut check. That seems like kind of a quaint idea in this world of data, but how often have you felt your innards tighten up, perhaps your pulse rate increase and just have that sense that this is not the right decision even when all the data says it should be?

Writing in The Washington Post, reporter Ana Swanson reports on a new study which lends credibility to the belief that our ‘gut reactions’ can in fact be highly important factors in decision making.  In her article titled “Why gut feelings may really help you make risky decisions” she discusses a new paper on the subject published in Scientific Reports.  She reports that “These feelings, which result not just from a person’s gut but also their heart, lungs, bladder, bowels, skin and other organs, aren’t just random. They contain signals that tell people about their emotional states, including pain, anxiety and doubt, the researchers say. And some people are better at detecting these signals than others.”

The research was done in part by John Coates, a former derivatives trader in the financial services industry, who now does work as a neuroscientist. He focused his research on a set of financial futures traders and a set of non-traders. Although the study size was small “…it supports a larger body of research suggesting that subtle physiological changes can aid people in making tough decisions.”

The long and short of the study was that the two groups were asked to count their heartbeats without directly feeling their pulse (read: listening to their gut). The results showed that “…the traders were significantly better on average at counting than non-traders. The researchers also found that traders’ precision on counting their own heartbeats predicted their profit and loss record, and the number of years they had survived in the market.”

While data is critical to success these days, it does not have courage. It does not have sensitivity.  It has no appetite for risk; or, as a balance to risk, common sense.  So, there is still a place in this fast paced, fact and data driven world for doing what our ‘guts’ tell us.

Why is this important to us at United Credit Service? Because we still use our ‘guts.’  To be sure, data drives our business, too, but a debt is a debt that must be paid and we are highly tenacious when it comes to recovering a debt on behalf of our clients. Yet, we pride ourselves on a ‘compassionate approach’ to collecting.  We realize that debtors are people too and often a ‘gut feeling’ can produce better results using a compassionate approach rather than a heavy handed one.  The benefit to our clients is that we maintain a relationship with the debtor, and we are keenly aware that how we represent them reflects on them as well.  At UCS relationships are key and a good ‘gut check’ can maintain them and improve our client’s results.

Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at, call 877-723-2902 or check out our YouTube video.



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