Category Archives: Decision Making

Intuition as a Dynamic Adaptation Skill

mountain-morginsAside from business executives, there are other professionals who use intuition and instinct, and in some cases it is about crude survival tactics.  In war, life-and-death decisions must be made instantly, with little if any time for rational analysis.  And what’s more impressive is that the army has discovered that the ability to act effectively from gut feelings can be improved through training.

Time after time, the army has learned that “the speed with which the brain reads and interprets sensations like the feelings in one’s own body and emotions in the body language of others is central to avoiding imminent threats.”  The U.S. military has spent billions of dollars to protect against improvised explosive devices (IEDs), investing in hardware and technology to seek and destroy these homemade roadside bombs.  But experts say it is the human brain that has proven to be the most perceptive detection system.  Troops often credit their experience and perception—their gut feelings—for their ability to notice and foil IED attacks.

U.S. troops are a central focus of a large effort to understand how it is that in a life-or-death situation some people’s brains can sense danger and act on it well before others can.  Experience matters on the battleground.  If you have seen something before, you are more likely to anticipate it the next time.  Yet it is not just experience that matters.  Research suggests that something else is at work too.  “Small differences in how the brain processes images, how well it reads emotions and how it manages surges in stress hormones help explain why some people sense imminent danger before most others do.”

Unfortunately, for some time feelings have been perceived as having little to do with rational decision making.  In fact, it has long been thought that they just get in the way of it.  But according to Dr. Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, “Now that position has reversed.  We understand emotions as practical action programs that work to solve a problem, often because we’re not conscious of it.  These processes are at work continually.”  All scientific facts point to the evidence of an inner knowing preceding our rational mind.

Gut feelings about potential threats and opportunities are not always correct, and neuroscientists debate the conditions under which the feelings precede the conscious awareness of the clues themselves.  But our instinctual skills evolved to ensure our survival, and research findings suggest that in some people those skills are exquisitely sensitive.  So although the many serious researchers who say that gut feelings are not always correct do have a point, they may be missing the most important point: gut feelings have other functions that transcend the logic of reason, and to leverage their role fully we should not evaluate gut feelings on a narrow basis of whether they are right or wrong.

When we engage in solving a problem using logical skills, we follow certain rules or protocols based on past experience with a similar problem.  The rules and protocols we follow are generally well defined and measurable.  If we succeed in solving our problem, we typically attribute it to the efficacy of the protocols we followed.  If we fail at solving our problem, we can look back and analyze the steps we took to find where our approach failed.

Conversely, when we engage in solving a problem using our instincts, we follow a path that is highly specific to our problem and ourselves at a particular moment in time.  If someone asks us how we solved the problem, we may be able to recount what we did, but even a detailed recounting of what we did will not necessarily apply to a similar problem.  And that’s fine, because instinctual problem solving isn’t necessarily about replication; it’s about dynamic adaptation to circumstances.  The problem is that when we are successful, we (and others) may attribute our success simply to luck, even though calling on our instincts is a skill we can develop.   So although we may never be able to measure the efficacy of instinct-based problem solving precisely, that doesn’t mean it is a random phenomenon.  The difference between logic-based problem solving and instinct-based problem solving isn’t necessarily efficacy; the difference lies in our ability or inability to precisely identify cause and effect.  And when we can’t identify cause and effect, we often feel out of control or inefficient, when in fact we may have  some instinctual clues to next steps or answers.

How Instinct and Intuition Can Help You Navigate Our Uncertain Times

No, no! You’re not thinking, you’re just being logical.

–Niels Bohr, Nobel Prize winner in physics

photo-1424298397478-4bd87a6a0f0cTo date, our collective approach to human intelligence often relies on outdated concepts. The misplaced expectations we place on the ability of instinct and intuition to guide us in life often obliterates their original contributions. We expect intuition and instinct to give us black and white answers that logic can evaluate. It is simply not their function. Yet this misunderstanding of intuition and instinct, which is evident in questions like, “Can I trust my intuition to make the right decision?” or “Can I rely on my guts to do this?” is often encountered in business. This in turn limits our ability to better understand the breadth and depth of a situation and make decisions with a broader perspective, which is exactly what instinct and intuition are meant allow us to do.

It is necessary to better understand how our brain functions in order to better leverage its creative capacity for in-depth reflection, original thinking, and efficient and sustainable decision making.  But with the exception of rare initiatives, business schools and educational institutions in general seem quite resistant to change in this field of interest. Our economy is highly complex and unpredictable.  This makes traditional decision making, which is predominantly guided by the laws of logic, inoperative or plain dangerous. Therefore we need to better understand our mental life–and its larger potential, which is hidden to the conscious mind yet accessible to the newly educated and insightful individual; this is where intuition and instinct com into play to help us identify in the midst of complex systems the decisive piece of information that would have otherwise eluded our rational mind.

Instinctual aptitudes can be instrumental in business.  People who employ instinct and intuition have a more and more decisive competitive advantage when navigating in the new economy. But what exactly is instinct? Here are some simple definitions to keep in mind:

– Instinct is our innate inclination toward a particular behavior (as opposed to a learned response)

– A gut feeling or a hunch–is a sensation that appears quickly in consciousness (noticeable enough to be acted on if one chooses to) without us being fully aware of the underlying reasons for its occurrence.

– Intuition is a process that gives us the ability to know something directly without analytic reasoning, bridging the between the gap conscious and nonconscious parts of our mind, and also between instinct and reason.

In everyday language these three terms can at times be substituted for one another. Some people may also understand or define these words differently. But at The Human Company, these definitions reflect the specific meaning we attach to each.

In the 1960s, Dr. Douglas Dean, along with his colleague John Mihalasky, studied approximately five thousand executives. Eighty percent of them said they believed in extrasensory perception (ESP) and used it to anticipate and seize profitable business opportunities. ESP is casually referred to as a sixth sense, gut instinct, or hunch, and for this reason ESP pertains to our subject matter: the importance and the role of instinct and intuition in decision making. This belief in ESP did not stem from the fact these highly successful businessmen had any theoretical knowledge of the subject, nor did it indicate that they would seek advice from a person with psychic abilities. It was simply the reflection of a direct experience with these abilities and their concrete applications to business. Dean and Mihalasky also studied a particular subgroup among the initial five thousand executives. They focused on 165 presidents and CEOs of American companies who had doubled or more than doubled their company profits in a five-year period. They found that 80 percent of them had above-average predictive computer test scores; that is, they demonstrated precognitive abilities. This piece of research on the use of everyday intuition for decision making in business led the authors to believe that precognitive ability was a reliable indicator of financial success. According to the authors, measuring potential aptitudes for ESP would be a much better indicator of professional success than other psychometric instruments. Some of the highly successful global companies I have worked for, like Estée Lauder Companies and L’Oréal, do give great importance to intuition. Mrs. Estée Lauder herself would rely greatly on her intuition, and today Estée Lauder Companies CEO Fabrizio Freda insists on maintaining and supporting intuition–in conjunction with a strong analytical capacity–in the work of his teams as a fundamental aspect in the success of the company. L’Oreal’s former CEO, François Dalle, who built the beauty company into a world-renowned multinational, insisted on “intuiting what is arising” as a key competence the beauty company executives had to develop and work with. This type of belief is not limited to the beauty industry. Konosuke Matsushita, Japanese industrialist and founder of Panasonic, once said. “No matter how deep a study you make, what you really have to rely on is your own intuition.”

Dean and Mihalasky’s well-known research has been available since 1974, the year of its publication. It is not new knowledge. And since then, similar studies have produced similar results. Another study was conducted in the 1980s, using two thousand managers over a period of two years. This study revealed that executives used intuition like “explorers” to “foresee” the correct path to follow, but they did so secretly. A well-known 1994 study conducted at the Harvard Business School produced a global survey of more than 1,300 practicing managers in nine countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, Brazil, France, India, Japan, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Of the 1,300 polled executives, 80 percent explained their success through decisions made intuitively, and 75 percent claimed they used intuition and logic equally. However, the study also shows that more than 50 percent of them would not publicly admit to relying on intuition. These last two examples prove that gut feelings and intuition are widely resorted to in business, but that there is definite prejudice against this type of aptitude.

So how come organizations I know and organizations I hear about still evaluate executives on criteria such as team management, interpersonal communication, entrepreneurship, and, more recently, emotional intelligence, but they do not integrate in their evaluation templates the ability to manifest as well as encourage in others instinctual intelligence and intuition at work? How come classes about intuitive skills are still so rare in business schools? A first answer seems obvious: we are culturally uncomfortable with what’s not exact and what cannot be demonstrated. Even if research shows that many successful business minds use intuition, it remains hard to conceptualize intuition and make it a tangible capacity that can be taught and measured. Besides, to share an intuitive opinion or to defend it in a fact-based environment such as a business presentation requires self-confidence and courage. All these issues are cause for leaving the challenging topic of intuition out of modern society in which the scientific mind is clearly seen as a warrant for truth and reliability.

Decoding your Intuitive Compass®

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 10.35.29 PMAs promised, here is our blog post on decoding your Intuitive Compass®.  If you missed our “How you Make Decisions Questionnaire”, check it out here.  For more information about the Intuitive Compass® please check out our July 6, 2015 blog post or our book.


In this quadrant you can see how analytical and methodical you are about making a decision, how focused you are on getting the results you want, how you manage the time you have, an how you organize your environment and your resources to come to the best decision.  A high score in the northeast quadrant mans there is a high level of logical thinking and organization involved in your decision making; it shows your determination in the decision-making process and how well your organizational skills are mobilized for this. Conversely, a low score means that for you the process of decision-making does not follow a logical scheme.  When circumstances call for swift, insightful or instinctual ways of making a decision –a capacity very much associated with the southeast quadrant –then little organization makes sense and being methodical is not relevant.  But a low score under regular business circumstances means you would benefit from adopting a more rational and methodical approach to optimize your process of decision making. You may want to talk to a friend who makes good business decisions and manages his or her time, environment, data, and thoughts well.


In the southeast quadrant, you get feedback on three aspects of your approach to the decision-making process: your level of commitment to doing whatever it takes to make a decision, regardless of how challenging it may be; your degree of clarity about the possible outcomes of your decision; and finally, your determination to make the best decision possible. A high score indicates a clear sense of about two or three of these aspects.  A low score indicates a lack of commitment to making a decision and/or making the best one, and/or a lack of evaluation of the potential outcome of your decision.  Depending on what you seek or have to achieve with your decision making you may want to analyze and try to understand why you’re not more committed.  In your analysis you any want to question whether you approach serves you well in your life; if it does not, consider how you can reframe your approach and empower yourself to be more committed when making decisions.  You may also want to spend time reflecting on the potential desired outcome of your decision so that you become more motivated to achieve it.  A lack of determination to make a decision may be the result of a desire to avoid dealing with certain feelings: discomfort, pain, fear, and so on.  This is why if you have a low southeast score you may want to put in in perspective with your southwest score and look for a correlation between the two low scores as the potential reason for your low score in the southeast quadrant. Compare both scores in the southeast and the southwest.  If they are both low it means that whether it is about being efficient and getting results or whether it is about play and free flow it is hard for you to commit beyond what’s logical.  You may consider looking into your ability to trust and examining whether you have underlying trust issues when making a particular decision or making decisions in general.  If it is the first case (trust issue around a particular decision), you may want to review the circumstances around this decision and the consequences of this decision.  Try to evaluate whether these are significant enough to justify your low score. If it is the second case (a trust issue around making decisions in general), you may want to either discuss it with a good friend whom you consider grounded and perspicacious or talk about it with a professional coach.


The northwest quadrant tells you about your openness to new perspectives and to the various options available to you in the process of making a decision.  It also gives feedback on your willingness to analyze and reflect on your expectations about the potential outcome of your decision.  If your score is low, chances are it will be difficult for you to evaluate precisely how successful your decision was, how successful it could have been, or what it is that you gained from the fact you made a decision, because you don’t have clear expectations.  If, however you made a decision with a clear strategy, chances are it will be easier for you to accept the outcome of your decision no matter what. Even more important, it will be easier to improve your decision-making process, thereby increasing your satisfaction with the potential outcome.  This is because the clearer you are about what you wish to achieve and the path to it, the more flexible and open to improvisation you can be in the process of getting there—and the more prepared you are to accept the outcome of your decision, because it was planned out and thought out rather than random and thoughtless. It is much easier to accept failure after you have strategically thought out a decision than it is when you did not do your homework; in the latter case, playing the victim of circumstances can be an easy cop-out yet completely disempowering.  Moreover, a lack of clarity about making a decision will induce a lack of openness, which in turn will inhibit you from exploring various options for decision making and different motivations to commit to making the decision. A high score in the northwest means that you have clarity about your expectations and an open disposition to new ideas and discoveries about your decision making process, your ideas and your beliefs. A high score in the northwest combined with a high score in the southeast will further optimize your chances of making the best decision.


The southwest quadrant shows your ability to be comfortable while making a decision even when circumstances are uncertain and require you to explore beyond the bounds of logic and let go of mental control over the process.  This quadrant is key in approaching creative decisions, as these often require either subjective evaluations or estimations beyond what we know and what is logical. Such questions ask for another type of decision-making process:  using our intuition to explore our gut feelings and tolerate the unknown.  A high score indicates that you are comfortable making decisions with what many people might consider incomplete data points, or in situations where there are apparently conflicting data. If you have a high score here, you probably can tolerate a high level of ambiguity, and you may very well pursue potential solution in unusual ways; for example, by looking for inspiration outside of the immediate context of the issue at hand.  There’s a potential downside to a high score in the southwest: if it is not balanced by high scores in the northwest (where you connect great ideas to actionable strategies and plans) or the southeast (where you put those plans into action and turn them into concrete results), your imaginative, intuitive ideas may never see the light of day or at the least, may not realize their greatest potential. Conversely, a low score indicates that you could benefit from a more experimental approach when you make a decision.  It would probably be useful for you to reflect on how you much trust more—within the thresholds of integrity and prudence—when encountering new situations.  You may want to improve your tolerance for confusion and try developing a sense of playfulness that will enable you to explore your decisions more easily and enrich the process.  If your score in the southwest quadrant is low, you may also want to reflect on how southwest capabilities have become key to making successful decision in today’s economic environment.  Of course, you need to consider your southwest score in relationship to your scores in the other three quadrants, as optimum results and the deepest breakthroughs will be gains when the scores in all four quadrants are high and are therefore in balance with one another.

How and Why to Apply Gut Feelings to Business

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 9.46.41 PMI know we promised you an decoding of your intuitive compass, and with our greatest apologies, it will come next week.

In the meantime…

Because our instinct is responsible for our survival, it actually makes complete sense for it to be heavily involved in sophisticated decisions. It has been doing that job for thousands of years. So it follows that, in important matters that will affect our lives, our instinct should be the first and foremost judge of whether or not a decision is good. A study conducted by neuroscientists at Princeton University confirms this fact. The aim of the study was to demonstrate how a gut feeling may rise before a person becomes conscious of what the brain has registered. In the study, students were directed to pick out figures—people or cars—in a series of photos that flashed by on a computer screen. The pictures flashed by four at a time, and the participants were told to scan only two of them, either those above and below the center point, or those to the left and right. Eye tracking confirmed that they did just that. But brain scans showed that the students’ brains registered the presence of people or cars even when the figures appeared in photos that they were not paying attention to. The brain tallies cues, big and small, consciously and not, it may send out an alarm before a person fully understands why.

A gut feeling is often the result of some part of our brain taking in and processing information that we are not conscious of having taken in and processed. This study demonstrates how we sometimes are not consciously aware of all of the information that we in fact have already registered at some level—in this case visually.

When a gut feeling arises before a person becomes conscious of it, it can enrich their ability to make a decision. Not only that, but sometimes logical problem solving is simply not the best option. Sometimes the best way to come up with an appropriate answer to a logical problem is to base it on a gut feeling. Dr. Gerd Gigerenzer, a psychologist who has studied the limits of rational thinking in decision making explains that, contrary to popular wisdom, sometimes there is no optimal strategy attainable to solve a problem. He gives the example of a presidential candidate who has to plan a fifty-city tour. The candidate would like to start and end in the same city and obviously cover the shortest distance. The candidate would like to start and end in the same city and obviously cover the shortest distance. There are so many possible itineraries that not even the fastest computer can optimize the candidate’s choice in a lifetime, a century, or even a millennium.

When optimization is out of reach we must rely on our gut feelings instead of logical deduction. And this applies to any situation in which rules are not completely explicit, uncertainty is prevalent, or rule breaking is an option. This obviously pertains to winning a negotiation, leading an organization, marketing a new product, investing in the stock market, or training executives. Of course, for every one of these endeavors good enough strategies exist, but for us to find and choose these valid strategies we need to resort to what Gigerenzer calls a “rule of thumb,” which he defines as the product of a mental process that tries to identify the most important information and ignore the rest, taking advantage of an evolved capacity of the brain to do so. For Gigerenzer, expert of the intelligence of the unconscious, “it would be erroneous to assume to intelligence is necessarily conscious and deliberate.” He adds, “We know more than we can tell.”

Excerpted from Francis Cholle’s The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass


Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 10.35.29 PMWhere do you fall on the Intuitive Compass®? A great way to start understanding the Intuitive Compass® is to actually use it. Take a few minutes to answer the following questionnaire; your answers will give you a snapshot of how you make decisions. Each person’s Intuitive Compass® is unique, revealing something about the person’s approach to a specific topic (in this case, decision making) at a specific moment in time (today!)

For more information about the Intuitive Compass® please check out our July 6, 2015 blog post or our book.

For each question, rate yourself from 1 to 5 (1 is least, 5 is most) as it relates to how you approach decision making. When you are finished we will explain how to chart your answers on a diagram of the Intuitive Compass. We hope you will gain insights on how to optimize your decision-making process in the future.

1. How willing are you to review your creative options with an open mind while you are in the process of making a decision?
2. How willing are you to systematically gather facts and data surrounding your decisions?
3. How willing are you to evaluate the potential outcome of your decisions before you make them?
4. How organized are you in making the best use of the time you have to make decisions?
5. How willing are you to approach making a decision with a playful attitude—that is, not focusing on expected tangible results?
6. How committed are you to making proactive decisions even when the decision-making process is challenging and it would be easier to avoid making a decision altogether?
7. How ready are you to question your own ideas and beliefs while making a decision?
8. How willing are you to be present to your emotions, regardless of whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, while you are in the process of making a decision?
9. How willing are you to organize your environment and resources to optimize your decision making?
10. How willing are you to openly explore new concepts and new perspectives while making a decision?
11. How committed are you to making the best decision possible?
12. How accepting are you of being confused while you are in the process of making a decision?

To calculate how you score in each quadrant:
For the northeast quadrant, add questions # 2, 4, 9 and divide total by 3.
Northeast Quadrant Score

For the southeast quadrant, add questions # 3, 6, 11 and divide total by 3.
Southeast Quadrant Score

For the northwest quadrant, add questions # 1, 7, 10 and divide total by 3.
Northwest Quadrant Score

For the southwest quadrant, add questions # 5, 8, 12 and divide total by 3.
Southwest Quadrant Score

Your Intuitive Compass®

Please print the image that goes with this post and follow the instructions below.

Mark a dot in each quadrant at the point on the line that is closest to your score for that quadrant and then draw lines to connect the dots in all quadrants. Use the following sample compass to plot your own score and connect the dots.

Next week we will talk about how to decode your compass.

Copyright © 2012 Francis Cholle (text and images)

Navigating the Shift to Play

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 2.06.21 PMExcerpted from Francis Cholle’s The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass

If innovation is key to corporate success, and if play is the door to innovation, then the next logical question (logic does have it place!) is how to create a corporate atmosphere be part of every CEO’s mandate, and companies should be rated according to the level of playfulness of their culture in the same way as they are rated as a great place to work or as a socially responsible organization.

A number of practical steps can be followed to navigate this cultural shift toward play, which then can become easier than it seems.

Think about what play look like.  It is personal, engaging, and interactive.  It is often exuberant and messy.  It is filled with light, color, and sound.  When you think about play, you may instinctively think about a children’s playground or children’s toys.  Now, think about corporate offices, or, more specifically, corporate boardrooms.  There are lots of straight lines in boardrooms, (or perhaps, artistically, an elegantly curved accent wall); there is typically an imposing table made from fine polished wood or sleek metal.  That table likely suggests a hierarchical seating arrangement that people intuitively understand: the boss will sit at the head of the table and the chief advisor will sit next to the boss or perhaps will anchor the other end.  The rest of the employees will fill in the sides of the table.  So, before the meeting even starts, everyone knows his or her relative importance.  And everyone knows that polite behavior is expected: sit up straight, papers stacked neatly in front of you, a pen at the ready, smartphone close by in case of an emergency.

These rigid boardrooms are where major strategic decisions are being made about innovation and the future of our organizations.  They represent a very logical environment geared toward conscious conversations that will unfold in a very linear and efficient way.  They appeal to the 20 percent of our intelligence that lives in our conscious mind with its wealth of creative ideas, and the intelligence that we can reach through play.

Dr. Marian Cleeves Diamond, one of the world’s foremost neuro-anatomists advocates the establishment of “playful environments.” I too believe that we need to create offices, boardrooms, and activities that engage our playful nature—a corporate sandbox or playground.  We are playful by nature and efficient by necessity.   So let’s embrace our nature, and less effort will be needed for the same, or better, results.  When we do this we can break through the mental barriers that are keeping us stuck. Certain corporations are already doing this. Some of the things that they do to create a play-friendly atmosphere include:

–    Allocating significant time in which employees are explicitly encouraged to play

–       Creating, or giving employees access to, physical spaces that are conducive to play

–       Giving employees implicit and explicit permission to “fail” or be “unproductive” in their pursuit of innovation.

Why You Need Intuition in Business (part one)

In Frederic Laloux’s recent groundbreaking book “Reinventing Organizations”, he makes the case for the value of developing your intuition:1PM

     Wisdom can be a found in intuition, too.  Intuition honors the complex ambiguous, paradoxical, non-linear nature of reality; we unconsciously connect patterns in a way that our rational mind cannot.  Intuition is a muscle that can be trained, just like logical thinking: When we learn to pay attention to our intuitions, to honor them, to question them for the truth and guidance they might contain, more intuitive answers will surface.

Just as we prepare ourselves for an important interview or set our minds to achieve a challenging goal like running a marathon, we can take step to invite intuition into our daily experience.  The following are a number of ideas to ponder and exercises to do.  Consider adapting them in a way that speaks to you.

Revisit Your Perspective and Perceptions

  • Consider the possibility that wherever you are now is now the optimal place from which to get where you want to go.  A Native American proverb says:  What do you do when you get lost?  Stand still.  The trees and bushes beside you are not lost.
  • Look at a painting by Monet or Picasso and contemplate your ability to alter your perception of reality and bring forth something completely new and unexpected.
  • Pay attention to details–like a word, color, or song that catches your attention or comes to mind for no apparent reason–as elements that have the capacity to reveal the whole.  Look around you with a fresh eye to rediscover the environment you’re in or all data and aspects of the situation at hand that you would like to resolve.

Get Comfortable with the Part of Life That Is Not Logical

  • Don’t immediately ban an idea because it is paradoxical and appears illogical.  Welcome paradoxical data or situations.  The word “paradox” comes from the Greek paradoxos “opposed to existing notions, from para- + doxa opinion”; so something that is paradoxical is something we should all look for because we looking for new ideas, not what is already known and widespread.  
  • When you receive information that appears to be out of context, take a moment to notice it.  It may appear to be out of context, but it could lead you to a deeper understanding of something that is not obvious.

Accept That You Are Not in Control

  • Allow yourself to be carried away by energies that appear to be chaotic.  Your acquiescence can help the emergence of a new order that you could not have imagined.
  • Try to stay in tune with your emotions, especially in moments of stress or chaos.  Emotions are energies that are all part of a same circle; if we shut one down, we break the circle, and we close ourselves off from all emotions, good or bad.  If we can avoid trying to harshly control emotions that feel uncomfortable, they will pass and we will return to a state of balance.  The more we accept our emotions, the faster they evolve and the faster we can move on.


Does Your Business Truly Focus on Value Creation?

Excerpted from Francis Cholle’s The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-BassScreen Shot 2015-08-09 at 9.19.35 PM

Whereas the traditional business model was solely about profit, the new business model is about sustainable value creation.  In the old economic paradigm, we typically used hierarchical power structures and fear to achieve dominance.  In the new economic paradigm, successful businesses leverage collaboration and cooperation into a competition for significance, such as offering value to all the people who are involved, directly or indirectly, with your business activities.  When you deliver substantial value to all of your communities, profitability follows naturally.  The following questions will help you understand the focus of your business model.

  • Is your business strategy profit-centric or based on sustainable value creation?
  • Do you believe that sustainable value is beneficial to all of your stakeholders?
  • Are you looking at short-term or long-term sustainable value creation to measure the impact of your decisions?
  • Are you spending enough time anticipating where technology is going and how it will affect your business?
  • Are you capable of designing totally new product line tailored to untapped consumer groups, including developed market nonusers and emerging market new consumers?

After you’ve answered these questions, you should understand whether your business model is focused narrowly on dollars and cents profit, or if it is focused broadly on value creation.

Intuitive Intelligence: The New Key to Problem Solving and Decision Making (part 2)

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 9.39.29 PMLast week we began a discussion of Intuitive Intelligence as a way to make use of our inherent abilities and aptitudes in the task of creative problem solving and optimum decision making.  The four tenets of Intuitive Intelligence are thinking holistically, thinking paradoxically, noticing the unusual, and leading by influence. We continue by exploring tenet number three.

3. Noticing the Unusual

The third tenet is the ability to look beyond what’s usual, to notice the odd and unfamiliar, and to embrace the paradoxical and mysterious nature of life, beyond what we know or what we’re used to perceiving.  To notice is to pay attention, and for this we use our senses.  We can pay attention outwardly by seeing what’s around us, or we can pay attention inwardly by feeling what’s inside of us.  When we notice things we can receive information in two ways; one is paying attention to what make logical sense, the other is paying attention beyond the logical sense of what we contemplate.  In the second case we have to open up to our feelings, our emotions, our sensations, and our intuition.  We get closer to our instinctual nature, and our creative imagination gets triggered.  We connect with our unconscious; we gain access to, and nourish, our imagination and creativity.

4.  Leading by Influence

There is at the heart of any living system a self-organizing principle.  The less we try to control it, the more we can reap its power and creatively engage with it.  The worst way to deal with The same is true for the creative process.  Any creative process is experimental and chaotic due to its unpredictability.  Successfully leading disruptive innovation calls for someone who can lead by influence and leverage the self-organizing principle present at the heart of the chaotic process of creativity to facilitate transformation and guide the process towards effective change.

This following simple anecdote illustrates the practical application of the four tenets of Intuitive Intelligence.  A student I met while teaching at the graduate program of Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) drove every day to the business school campus, which is in the countryside close to Versailles, approximately twelve miles away from where he lived.  Because he is from Chile, he had been relying on his car’s GPS to find his way each day.  But one day, after a seminar on Intuitive Intelligence, he decided not to switch on his GPS and to instead rely on his gut instincts to find his way.  He had a big smile on his face when he told the entire class that driving to the campus without the help of his GPS actually worked perfectly and more easily!

So, this is how intuitive intelligence was manifested for my student:

Thinking Holistically:  Finding his way to the campus was transformed into a richer experience, one colored with emotional, intellectual, instinctual, and almost spiritual aspects; it ultimately both a task and a game.  It was about a journey of self discovery and adventure as much as it was about achieving a goal.

Thinking Paradoxically:  He managed to get to campus more easily while taking a paradoxical problem-solving approach: relying on less factual information.

Noticing the Unusual: To make choice at any given crossroads, he had to pay attention and be receptive to his inner perceptions, even if they were unusual (not reading instructions on a screen or taking visual cues on a digital map).

Leading by Influence:  He accepted giving up logical control over the situation and letting other seemingly random possibilities emerge to help him find his way as he kept focused on his goal:  getting to the campus on time.

Intuitive Intelligence: The New Key to Problem Solving and Decision Making (part 1)

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 10.53.00 PMIntuitive Intelligence is a different way to organize and use what we already know and what we are already capable of doing.  It helps us understand how to make use of our inherent abilities and aptitudes in the task of creative problem solving and optimum decision making.  Intuitive Intelligence activates the profound, yet often intangible, interaction between instinct and play.  The four tenets of Intuitive Intelligence are thinking holistically, thinking paradoxically, noticing the unusual, and leading by influence.  Each tenet helps us to complement the dualistic and limited nature of the logical mind with the other parts of our mind, which are much more cryptic, much less articulate, but extremely powerful.

1.     Thinking Holistically.  Holistic means that the totality of a system is more important than the sum of its parts.  It is always interesting to think and focus on a holistic approach because we can gain new perspectives and learn new things from it.

 2.      Thinking Paradoxically.  We know many theories, we have had many experiences; they all contribute to our personal belief system and collective knowledge.  Although there is definitely more of what we don’t now than there is of what we know, culturally we tend to evaluate everything through what we already know.  Embracing new situations and new ideas with an attitude that is as open as it is critical, as candid as it is discriminating, is the only way to enter uncharted territories and conceptualize new ideas.  The unconscious does not follow the logic of analytical reason, yet new ideas stem from our unconscious.  So we need to open our mind to the paradoxical logic of the unconscious to reach beyond common ideas and beliefs, which is exactly the meaning of the word paradox.  To do that is simply requires giving up our need for immediate logical understanding of a situation and trusting our other form of intelligence–at work, for instance when we get insights from our dreams or myths.

Excerpted from The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass, 2011.