Space affects moods. A beautiful space can make people happy; a small cramped office can make them feel depressed. But more important, space also affects behaviors and communication. Open space offices allow an easier flow of communication among team members and can convey a strong feeling of belonging, but they also can make it harder to focus. Separate offices allow for more privacy and concentration but can easily create silos that separate people and teams. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you need to be ready to manage space not only from a budgetary standpoint but also from the perspective of what it is your creative teams actually need in order to be creative and to deliver the level of innovation your company needs. To achieve this, some companies will have to literally give away space–that is, to sacrifice space for its positive impact on the environment, the company culture and ultimately the creative output.
Office space is an expensive commodity, especially in the world’s most competitive markets, and historically offices have been designed and furnished to maximize administrative efficiency and minimize facility costs (private offices only for senior executives, “cube farms” for lower-ranking personnel). But today companies are looking at efficiency differently, and consequently they are looking at space differently. They are looking for ways to maximize the creative output of their employees, and from that viewpoint the most efficient use of space is one that supports creative interactions. For example, Pixar’s California headquarters–where bathrooms, mailboxes, and meeting rooms are clustered at the center of the building–are designed to ensure that employees from different divisions of the company are certain to run into each other throughout the day. This facilitates informal and random conversations among diverse team members and allows creative ideas and collaborations to be born. I once had a client who wanted to close off an open space in their New York City offices; I struggled hard to convince them otherwise. The company needed more private meeting rooms. Moving out of their existing facility was not an option, nor was renting another floor, so the president of the company wanted to build elegant glass walls to enclose what in his opinion was wasted space.
My observation was quite different. The open space, which offered an inviting round table nestled by a large staircase, was the only place in the office where different members of the product development team would spontaneously sit to discuss their projects. Account managers would stop there after coming back from client meetings to share the latest developments about those clients and their projects. In other words, it was the perfect spot for informal communication and feedback loops. In the end, the precious open space was saved in spite of financial pressures.
How can your workspace benefit by creating places for accidental encounters or informal meetings?
Ritual is powerful and can be used to engage people in ways that words alone cannot. Rituals are meant to affect the body through regular repetition and dramatic staging; as a consequence of that drama and repetition, they affect us at an instinctual level and influence the mind in ways much deeper than logic and reason. From sacred ceremonies including school graduations and the public swearing in of elected officials, they mark the most significant moments of our lives, individually and collectively. On a more mundane level, they help us navigate through the average day—the morning cup of coffee, a hot shower. They send a signal to our brain that something of note is happening. In all cases they help us harness energy, stabilize our minds, and have faith in the future. In doing so they channel our thrust for survival in constructive ways. By conveying a sense of purpose to important aspects of our lives, they help us find meaning, go past inertia to move through the challenges of life, and creatively reach beyond the bounds of logic. Rituals powerfully harness the law of survival, the law of reaching beyond boundaries, and the law of inertia.
Rituals can also help in the business world. BETC, the successful advertising agency in France, provides an example that can easily be adapted to many different businesses and industries. The founder and chairwoman of the agency, Mercedes Erra, insists that whenever a brief on a new client or project is brought in by an account executive, it is and should be treated as a pivotal moment in the life of the agency. The brief is the first step in the development of a new campaign. Its arrival becomes a celebratory moment. It is the trigger for a professional ritual in which importance and meaning are conveyed. Food and drinks are brought into a special room, and all of the people who will be working on the campaign gather together to talk about the future of the project. It is fun and play and serious work all at the same time. Key elements of the brief are clarified, including the strategic context of the project. There is discussion about the agency’s or individual team members’ relationship with the client, and any convictions or doubts about the client, their company, the brand, or the communications plan that they want to launch. But what happens could not be achieved through an exchange of emails or written notes because they would not have the same impact. Allowing time, staging the meeting in a different way, and having the chairwoman attend the briefing all have a special emotional impact and show the significance of the event. People can feel its significance, and feeling it is more important than understanding it intellectually when it comes to harnessing creativity and enthusiasm. Feelings make an impact on our bodies, which in turn influences our ability to solve problems and imagine new solutions. Such a meeting reaches into people’s psyches, and the meeting’s perceived significance has a long-lasting effect. Rituals are powerful, as they help us go beyond what’s tangible and conscious. They reach deep into our unconscious, engage our instinct, and convey meaning.
The April 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review had an interesting article, “Culture is not the Culprit”, by Jay W. Lorsch and Emily McTague. They argue that these days, changing culture is seen as the cure to all business woes when instead it’s actually process and structural levers that need to be pulled, and then the change in culture follows. We would actually argue, both from our own experience and the examples that were presented in the article, the process and structure levers that were pulled came from a different cultural mindset. These CEOs were signaling a culture change implicitly rather than explicitly, but it remains a culture change nonetheless.
As an example, in three of the four cases studies given in the article, Ecolab, Delta, and Novartis, the authors cite different levers that were pulled in order make the company less hierarchical. These actions included decentralizing decision making power to other executives, to specific units, or to the front line. We would argue that the procedural decision to disperse power comes from a fundamental change in cultural mindset: hierarchy inhibits fluid decisions and actions in companies. Even though the decision to act and change may have come quickly and efficiently, rather than being the result of extensive offsites, the change in mindset had to come first. It then most likely had a ripple effect throughout the organizations and became recognized as part of the culture.
We have found in our own business and consulting, that hierarchy is a hindrance rather than a necessity, and when it can be partially removed or tempered, companies can succeed beyond expectations. What’s more, by removing the hierarchical structure we create a refreshing opening whereby energy is naturally generated. Whereas hierarchy and the traditional corporate structure are really about control, open power structures foster a culture in which people’s autonomy is encouraged and supported. When employees are offered more autonomy, they naturally function at a much higher level with less supervision. This is really the future, because it creates an atmosphere in which people are more likely to take risks and come up with solutions—an atmosphere suited to creativity.
We’ve used the Intuitive Compass® to create a Corporate Culture Questionnaire that is suitable for both CEOs trying to get a clearer understanding of how their company culture supports performance and for people in the process of looking for a new job who want to evaluate how well they would fit within the corporate culture of a particular company. (For those of you that need a primer on the Intuitive Compass, please click here.)
After you have assigned a score of 1 to 5 to each question (1 being the minimum and 5 the maximum), total the score of each quadrant, then divide by 5 for the average score for each quadrant.
Northeast Quadrant Questions:
- How clear are the processes that are in place to administer business?
- How efficient are these processes?
- How well organized is the business?
- How methodical is business management?
- How rationally and logically is business managed?
Southeast Quadrant Questions:
- How highly would you rate your team commitment to achieving results?
- How highly would you rate the efficiency of your company’s performance evaluation systems?
- How frequently is performance reviewed and analyzed?
- How robust are your company’s performance incentive programs?
- How well defined are your company’s parameters and criteria for the measurement of success?
Northwest Quadrant Questions:
- How much emphasis is put on strategic thinking?
- How highly would you evaluate the openness of the culture to new ideas and influences from employees?
- How highly would you evaluate the openness of the culture to new ideas and influences from outside the company?
- How easily does the company tolerate questioning of the status quo and embrace paradox?
- How effectively does the corporate culture encourage play?
Southwest Quadrant Questions:
- How well does the corporate culture support risk-taking?
- How well does the corporate culture tolerate the chaos of the creative process?
- How well does the corporate culture encourage passionate individuals?
- How much of the corporate culture is based on vibrant values and a strong sense of purpose?
- How often do meaningful rituals and symbols play an important role in the corporate culture?
For those of you who have our book, The Intuitive Compass, you can turn to page 171 to decode your results. For those of you who don’t, we will publish how to decode them next week.
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, and thus build our ability to move between what are traditionally considered masculine and feminine energies. Check out our two previous posts on Gender Intelligence here and here.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- + doxaopinion”; 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.
Relax and Practice Noticing
- The world-renowned mime Marcel Marceau said, “Our body knows things the mind does not have access to.” The best gateway to information from our subconscious mind about the world around us is through a relaxed body. The most efficient way to relax our body is not a five-star vacation, it is breathing. Breathing can dramatically alter our experience in any given moment. You can do this almost anywhere with a simple meditation. Sit quietly with both feet on the floor, hands at rest on your thighs, eyes closed. Don’t try to alter your breathing in any way, just pay attention to it. Don’t think about anything — not your problems, not even happy things — simply focus on the movement of your breath. Do this for a minute, or five minutes, or as long as you like, Taking this little break, even for just five minutes, may at first make you anxious, but give yourself permission to take five minutes in which you do nothing but breathe. To focus on your breathing, simply notice the movement of your diaphragm — the horizontal muscle that moves up and down in your mid-torso. when your diaphragm goes, up, you exhale and your rib cage narrows. When your diaphragm goes down you inhale and your ribcage expands. Becoming mindful of the movement of your diaphragm is enough to largely improve your breathing. When you give yourself this permission, your body will relax and your breath will deepen naturally.
- Pay attention. It is very easy to stop noticing small things, or even large things. Buddhists have a practice of mindfulness in which every movement, whether lifting a cup of tea to one’s lips or placing a foot on the ground while walking, is afforded the greatest attention. Be mindful during a routine event such as eating breakfast; afterward, record the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that arose in the short interval.
After you have tried the exercises, keep practicing the ones that resonate with you. Over time these exercises will help your intuitive abilities get stronger and will make it more likely that they will become natural part of your daily life. Intuition is a skill not made by either nature alone or nurture alone. We are born with a capability, and we turn it into a capacity by using it over and over again. Once you’ve identified the exercise of the few exercises that are most natural to you, with regular practice you will improve your ability to reflect about a decision or a situation beyond pure logic. This will greatly enhance your ability to pay attention and notice, to trust the unknown and tolerate the confusion that comes with ambiguity and complexity. You will be more comfortable with your own subjectivity. It will prevent you from too quickly jumping to a logical conclusion, which would not necessarily get you to the most creative answers.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
As 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.
Where 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 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)
Aside 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 the “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.
Excerpted from The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass, 2011.