Category Archives: Intuitive Intelligence

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.

Playing while you work. The key to success?

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 10.47.41 PMThe following article about the work we do at The Human Company was published on the January 9, 2016 in the magazine L’Echo.

 “Disruption.” Such is the word that describes the powerful upheaval of the rules of the economic game, due to globalization and digital technologies. When the methods of the past don’t work anymore for the problems of the present, finding new keys to success becomes essential. Consultant Francis Cholle is working on just that.

 By Stéphanie Fontenoy

 French-American Francis Cholle, business consultant and founder of the consulting firm, The Human Company, presents us with his Intuitive Compass®, a true compass for innovation in the hands of business leaders to better navigate in this capricious economic weather. As in Edgar Allen Poe’s A Descent Into the Maelstrom, the one who will be saved is the one who will know how to use their intuitive intelligence in the face of the storm. How? By anchoring instinct to reason, so that “a non-rational logic” emerges, holding within new forms of conflict resolution and understanding of complexity. “Intuition is a homing instinct able to forage in areas where rationality would get lost,” explains the expert. His Intuitive Compass® is comprised of two axes: the North-South axis, which connects reason to instinct, and the East-West axis, the results and “play”. Through a quiz, each company can discover its position thanks to this “compass” and find new roads to explore. To create this model, Francis Cholle, a graduate from HEC, not only drew from his experience as an entrepreneur and business owner, but also from clinical psychology, the teaching of yoga and meditation, and operatic singing, fields that he practiced professionally, as well as many other areas of study and scientific research. His workshops or “Labs” have been taken on by several Fortune 500 companies, including L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, SAP-Business Objects, Bristol Myers Squibb, Hachette, Lagardère, Veolia and Ralph Lauren. He is the author of the bestseller L’Intelligence Intuitive (“To succeed in a different way”) and in English, of a book for leaders, The Intuitive Compass (Why the Best Decisions Balance Reason and Instinct).

You introduce the concept of play and techniques borrowed from the theater in your business workshops. Why?

Because the problems we need to solve today require solutions that we can’t access with traditional thinking strategies. It has been proven neurologically that play allows us to call upon layers of the brain where forms of intelligence only accessible through play, meditation, psychotropic drugs or dream reside. When we play, we are less in “self-control”, we are more open, more creative, and able to take more risks.

In what way is intuitive intelligence particularly important nowadays?

Because we have to realize that this “disruption” phenomenon that we are faced with now is not simply a passing phase to get through, but a new norm, a “new normal” that requires a fresh look at the world. We rediscover that change is really the only thing that never changes, whereas so far, we had a much more static vision of the world.

The models taught in business schools do not fit this new reality?

Things are changing everywhere, including in business schools. Nevertheless, I think students should get help rethinking their relationship with complexity: admit, on the one hand, that resolving complexity is a field where linear, logical and strategic ways of thinking are not adapted to the demands of “disruption”, and on the other hand, that the human race has never ceased to solve complex situations through hundreds and thousands of years, long before the rise of modern logic. It’s an innate aptitude of man that transcends culture and training, that we have access to at any given time. It’s this universal competence that I help leaders achieve in their companies, in a practical and concrete fashion, at the heart of new methods of management, change organization and realization, new approaches to their markets, their know-how and creation of value. It is what the next generation has to discover and learn to mobilize, in business and elsewhere.

Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.” You mention a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Kary Mullis, who explains that his greatest discovery was made while he was driving, with an idle mind, far from his laboratory and research work. What does that tell us about intuition?

The IBM Global CEO study of 2010 revealed that close to two thirds of the leaders of small and large businesses, in 60 countries and 33 sectors, considered that creativity would become their most important skill during the next five years. In his latest book, Eric Schmidt, head of Google, explains that to face “disruption”, one has to rely more on good creative people than strategists. Other studies have showed that a large part of this creativity resides in our subconscious. We access it while we sleep, of course, but also through play or when our mind escapes the conscious straightjacket of rational thinking. I really like these words by a foundational scientist of quantum physics, Niels Bohr, “No, no, you are not thinking, you are only being logical!” It summarizes well the concept that thought is not limited to what we traditionally call logic, in science. Playing, like any other activity that allows us to disconnect from conscious logical thinking, therefore opens the door to creative intuition. The advantage of play is that it is an active mode that can easily be integrated inside work and collaboration processes. American medical researchers from the University of Washington used it a few years ago. In just three weeks, they obtained results they hadn’t been able to reach in ten years of research, by inviting non-scientist gamers to take part in an interactive game, Fold It.

During your Labs, you ask participants to remove their shoes. For what reason?

Shoes, just like ties or vests, are part of the prerogative of the professional “persona”, the character we build at work. By removing these accessories that contribute to the “persona”, we allow without any particular effort for the people present to be naturally more authentic, so they live less inside their heads and more inside their bodies, so they access what they feel more and their intellect less, and therefore access original creative information.

 Describe to us the play session you use to create this realization that another form of deeper and more creative intelligence lies dormant inside us.

The group must recreate the alphabet, from A to Z, with closed eyes, one letter at a time, following alphabetical order, but according to a random order of participation of each member in the group. The group is not allowed to agree on a specific strategy prior or during the exercise. Participants are only allowed to speak to say a letter. No one knows who will speak or when. If two people say a letter at the same time or if the alphabetical order is not respected, we start over from the beginning. I face the group with a complex situation for which there is no preconceived solution. The logical mind is powerless when it comes to solving this situation, naturally complex. Nonetheless, the logical mind is called upon to respect the alphabetical order. However, the group always ends up succeeding. This demonstrates to leading executives that there is another way to solve problems than that of logical and strategic thinking. Participants need to keep their rational intelligence active, but also let another way of thinking emerge, that of non-rational logic.

 What is the goal?

I want to recreate spaces and times where people function connected to each other on a very instinctive, universal, efficient level because it is beyond opinions, emotions and all expressions of separation. It’s a place that can give rise to a unanimity that could not be reached in another manner, and certainly not that fast, because we can always debate things forever. Culturally, we are very concerned with debating ideas. The goal is to reach a quality of relating to oneself and others that goes beyond the limits of the mental, rational and conscious mind, to accomplish a universal convergence that will open a previously unseen range of possibilities and reinvention. It’s a cathartic experience for each participant. Once this experience has been shared by the group, the executive committee for example, there emerges a sense of the possible and consensus. The quality of the interaction between the members of the group becomes completely different. New solutions appear and concrete actions can be decided upon. The next step is building precise and detailed action plans and allowing each participant to make these new solutions their own and become engaged in implementing them. Finally, the ultimate step is to establish these new practices in the daily life of the group and its participants. This requires support through time to fight individual and organizational inertias. Yet we manage, with time and particular care, to develop this new approach in a durable manner, and impress it on minds, work processes and thought patterns.

Your methodology is used by companies like L’Oréal, Lagardère, Estée Lauder Companies. Concretely, how does it work?

I worked recently with a subsidiary of a French multinational company in Japan, in the beauty industry. This group historically had difficulties breaking into the Japanese market. One of the problems is the adaptation of the company’s development model to the particularities of Japan, as much inside as outside the company. For example, the Japanese don’t deal with problems the way Westerners do. Their approach is contextual. The western way of thinking tends to face a problem straight on, like an arrow on a trajectory to its targeted objective, while Japanese people move forward progressively and according to a “hidden order” for the western mind. This is how they solve problems and lead projects. The alphabet game allowed the company’s executive committee to go beyond this very limiting cultural gap. It allowed the Japanese members of the executive committee to feel understood and the Westerners to better grasp the expectations of the Japanese. They managed to better work together and better overcome their challenges without having to understand all the nuances and differences of their respective managerial cultures. They’ve integrated the exercise and repeat it each time the committee meets, as if to find the same wavelength beyond their cultural differences. Once a group has perceived the depth and power of this process, they implement and use it. This allows them to immediately work better together and efficiently, rapidly, solve complex challenges born from the “disruption” they must face. The stakes and the speed of change are such that we have to learn new swift attitudes and new creative ways of thinking at the same time as we solve pressing issues.

Have you had results backed up by figures?

Yes, always. Our approach is built for that purpose. Most of my clients – companies with several billions in revenue and thousands of employees – like many companies today, are confronted with outdated business models, because of the global competition and digital newcomers, to the extent that some of them are experiencing losses. The reinvention of their business model was absolutely necessary. I’m thinking among others of Hachette Media (press) in the United States or Lagardère Unlimited (sports marketing) in Europe and Africa. In record time – less than a year – our approach allowed them to identify and implement the changes necessary, to get back on track with a viable business model, to regain considerable market shares and to reach a good level of profitability, in spite of a constantly changing competitive environment. “Disruption” doesn’t frighten them anymore. They are now equipped to face it.

How Intuitive Intelligence Can Help Us In Challenging Times

In light of the horrible events that took place in France last week, we would like to dedicate this post to the victims, the survivors and their families.
Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 2.55.06 PM

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.

–Thomas Merton

How do we move beyond a system that is so broken that events of this magnitude happen more and more regularly?  How do we change our value system to integrate the deep chasm that seems to divide us?  How can we even believe change this is possible, never mind make positive decisions that can propel humanity forward?  To make deeper and better decisions, you need imagination, patience, and open mind, and tolerance for ambiguity and confusion.

This calls for a new awareness.  It requires us to balance our faith in logic with the secular wisdom of instinct.  In doing so, we will need to tap into our intuition, an attribute of the feminine part of our psyche.  Intuition opens up new possibilities to feed the masculine part in us, which is ruled and often restricted by the logical mind.  And that is the message of Intuitive Intelligence: anything is possible when the feminine and masculine energies join to cooperate creatively, where improbable solutions can come to our rescue.

In our postmodern age we are still not used to the discomfort of the unknown, the demands of the feminine, and the fact that we are not in control.  But with determination, courage,and faith we can surrender to another belief system, one that enables us to overcome our fear and escape the deadening impact of our need for control.  As is the case with any creative journey, we have no guarantee of success, and no one can show us the way, because the way is unique for each one of us.  But we can receive guidance from the part of ourselves that knows better–the intuitive voice of feminine wisdom–and finally find our way out of control mode into a novel clarity and a deeper relationship with life.

Just as it always is for the mythical hero, the path we’re facing is filled with challenges and unknown factors.  However, we can choose to look at these challenges as parts of a creative process:  the process of evolution.  And we can rely on Intuitive Intelligence to help with decision making and creative problem solving in these unpredictable times.  It will provide unexpected creative answers, which will feel like magic to us because we cannot always explain them.  In this particular time of many unprecedented challenges we have a unique opportunity to engage and be taught in new ways.

There are many real-life successful examples in the business world that prove there is a plausible route beyond conventional logic.  This will always require a leap of faith, but the leap can be an educated one.  We need to rethink the way we think.  We need reinitialize our thinking program in light of a new scientific understanding of the power of instinct and play and the quantum laws of matter, which show the paradox of our limited individuality within the holistic force of our interdependence and an unlimited number of possibilities.  In this new world view, power has to be reconsidered, money deconstructed and reconstructed into its real purpose:  the prosperity of all.  We’re called to move on.  No time to waste.  A new generation is already there, and we can all do it.  Together we can create a more meaningful, more prosperous, and more balanced world, It requires some adjustments and faith, but it is possible.

The Lakota people have a saying: “It is not about peace on earth but peace with earth.”  When we observe nature, we see how everything and everyone in nature contributes to the whole; that nothing can exist without the others, the conflict, tension, destruction, complexity,  and mystery are also part of it; and that the sum of it all is the most mystifying system we could ever imagine and learn from.

Why We All Need Intuitive Intelligence

We attempt to interact with one another andScreen Shot 2015-09-20 at 10.05.08 PM arrange our institutions in hierarchical pyramids, because we have been taught that the world fundamentally operates according to physical laws that believe that our minds can and should operate in hierarchical way, the reason directing feeling and instinct.  But that thinking doesn’t match up with reality.

The hierarchical view of the world only tells part of the story.  It is a reflection of the classical physics of the atom: a limited, finite, separate, stable entity that is always precisely identifiable in space and time. But in the 1920s physicist like Niels Bohr discovered that we cannot describe the reality of subatomic—or quantum—particles. These entities are not separate and stable, but random and chaotic.  Subatomic particles cannot be precisely identified in space and time except within certain probabilities, and they area entangled in mysterious ways that Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.”

To describe reality fully, we need both classical Newtonian physics and quantum physics.  Likewise, to understand how our unconscious and conscious minds work, we need to account for instinct and feeling as well as reason, for both chaotic thinking and linear thinking.  As the second decade of the twenty-first century starts, even many scientists remain only dimly aware of the implications or quantum physics for the nature of reality, from the makeup of the physical world to the operations of our minds and their creative processes.  That doesn’t leave much hope for the rest of us.

The good new is you don’t need to fully understand the theory to understand how to be successful in our chaotic world.  What you do need is Intuitive Intelligence.

Intuitive Intelligence is a set of skills I designed that uses intuition to get to the instinctual and nonconscious parts of our minds.  It can be learned and developed, but because instinct does not operate in the same way as reason, Intuitive Intelligence requires unusual forms of learning and thinking.  This is why understanding intuition is key.

Intuition doesn’t seek “the truth” or even “sense.” Intuition is completely open to non-sense.  It dives down into the depths of the unconscious where reason and instinct collide in unexpected ways, and it latches onto hidden connections and contradictions.  Then it brings this information—via an unusual sign, a rare sensation, an unexpected feeling, or a seemingly irrelevant fact—to the surface of consciousness to feed the rational mind and enable logic to work with paradox.  Intuition empowers us to operate in the zone of ambiguity and change, the exact place where imagination and genius occur.

Intuitive Intelligence helps us survive in new and changing environments by incorporating intuition and instinct into our thought process and our business endeavors.  The purpose of instinct is survival.  Its’ ultimate mission is to ensure the sustainability of our species.  It understands how to collaborate with and with and adapt to our ecosystems. This is its inherent wisdom.  This is why Intuitive Intelligence is so needed today.

7 Questions to See if Your Leadership Mindset Meets Today’s Challenges

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 10.52.47 PMExcerpted from Francis Cholle’s The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass

In the new leadership mindset, the conventional view of hierarchical power is replaced by a web of interconnected relationships.  It requires a deeper understanding of human nature and takes into account instinct and play.  This mindset recognizes the power and promise of intuition and the unconscious.  It’s important that you have a reasonably objective understanding of your own leadership style before you can effectively change the way you lead your organization.  The following questions will help you get a sense of how you lead.

  • Is your leadership style about control or influence?  Does it embrace the nonlinear aspect of life, or is it more conventional?
  • How do you influence your team members’ work?  What systems do you have in place?
  • Is your leadership style addressing the instinctual and emotional dimension of every relationship, or is it more intellectual?
  • Is your leadership really about bringing value to all people around you or simply about getting people to do what you want them to do?
  • Do you, as a leader, understand the power of symbols and stage powerful business rituals?
  • Do you seek adulation or ego-reinforcing behaviors from your employees, or are you more likely to encourage your employees to be honest and forthright with you, even if their feedback is not positive?
  • Do you allow yourself to notice the unusual in order to innovate and stay ahead of the curve in all areas of your business?

Asking yourself these questions will help you get a stronger understanding of your leadership style, where it lies on the Intuitive Compass, and which aspects of intuitive intelligence is embodies as well as which aspects of intuitive intelligence it is not tapping into.

For more information about The Intuitive Compass™, check out last week’s blog post here.

And to learn more about intuitive intelligence, click here. 

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. 


Pathways Beyond Logic

Logic and reason alone can no longer guide us toward innovation or success.  They will not be enough to get us to the level of creativity and reinvention we need to address the challenges of the new economy.  We need to deal with the deeper part of human nature: intuition and instinct.  Science, evidence in the real world, and experience tell us that our intuition and our instincts, although sometimes difficult to completely understand, very often point us in the right direction.  Sometimes they can even save our lives.  To positively influence the deeper part of ourselves, we need to appeal to the heart and engage the guts. We need to honor the sometimes-cryptic clues sent up from many accomplished people in science, industry, and the military.  As business leaders we can take steps to create a corporate atmosphere that speaks to the hearts and instincts as well as the minds of our employees.  Doing so puts a great deal of agility and creative power to work for our companies.  One powerful way we can harness the creative power of our teams is by introducing rituals at key moments in business ideation and development.  Management and leadership—which increasingly require dealing with human motivation, behavioral change, and, now more than ever, sustainable innovation—are much more about the intangible part of business than about what’s tangible, much more about the unconscious part of human interactions that about the conscious part.

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

Intuitive Intelligence Turns the Credit Card Processing Industry on Its Head

Suneera Madhani’s leadership of her game-changing credit card processing company, Fattmerchant, exemplifies three of the four tenets of Intuitive Intelligence (thinking holistically, thinking paradoxically, leading by influence), and it’s paying off in spades. She also honors the millennial generation’s need for transparency, creating 50-75% monthly growth and tremendous customer loyalty, particularly notable because they don’t have to sign long-term contracts.

What is Intuitive Intelligence?

Intuitive Intelligence is a set of skills I designed that uses intuition to get to the instinctual and nonconscious parts of our minds.  It can be learned and developed, but because instinct does not operate in the same way as reason, Intuitive Intelligence requires unusual forms of learning and thinking.  This is why understanding intuition is key.

Intuition doesn’t seek “the truth” or even “sense.” Intuition is completely open to non-sense.  It dives down into the depths of the unconscious where reason and instinct collide in unexpected ways, and it latches onto hidden connections and contradictions.  Then it brings this information—via an unusual sign, a rare sensation, an unexpected feeling, or a seemingly irrelevant fact—to the surface of consciousness to feed the rational mind and enable logic to work with paradox.  Intuition empowers us to operate in the zone of ambiguity and change, the exact place where imagination and genius occur.

Intuitive Intelligence helps us survive in new and changing environments by incorporating intuition and instinct into our thought process and our business endeavors.  The purpose of instinct is survival.  Its ultimate mission is to ensure the sustainability of our species.  It understands how to collaborate with and with and adapt to our ecosystems. This is its inherent wisdom.  This is why Intuitive Intelligence is so needed today.

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