The “Intuitive Intelligence” conference I put together for HEC MBA – first business school in Europe per FT ranking over the past 5 years – has become one of the top global downloads for iTunes U.
One of the latest ideas to hit the buzz circuit is the concept of “digital intuition” – introduced by my6sense, a company which has developed a tool that serves up the most relevant
information for us. They’ve developed a recommendation engine which TechCrunch says “separates
the signal from the noise and helps users shift their attention to the
content they care about most.”
The application learns what you like, then finds more. Read More
A short article in Les Echos:
Another way to manage and lead
Neurosciences in the service of business
Francis Cholle author of L’Intelligence Intuitive recommends to executives to combine their analytical mind with their intuitive aptitudes to gain further consumer insight and improve business performance.
From our correspondent in the Sillicon Valley, Laetitia Mailhes
For beauty and fashion executives time has come to reconsider every aspect of business. “The economy is changing consumers’ behaviors, independently from the evolution of incomes, explains NY Fashion Institute of Technology Professor Stephan Kanlian. To open their wallet consumers today want more than brand prestige. They demand more and more added value and a greater match between products they buy and their own values.” But the business community is not well prepared to adapt to such a radical change.
“Obsession for financial return has led leaders to often forget they share a common humanity with consumers,” says Francis Cholle, author of L’Intelligence Intuitive, innovation consultant for large corporations and advisor to their C-Level executives. A graduate of the best European business school, HEC (Ecoles des Hautes Commerciales) Francis Cholle insists that sustainable value creation requires the necessary synergy between analysis and ROI on the one hand and play and instinct, on the other (see graph below of The Intuitive Compass™).
The role of intuitive intelligence
“Neuroscience showed in 2005 that parts of our brain traditionally associated with our instinct are involved in our most sophisticated decisions” says our expert in reference to MIT Picower Institute for Learning and Memory research on our reptilian brain aka instinctual brain, published in the scientific journal Nature. “It is very noticeable in consumer behaviors. For this exact reason if a company wants to understand its market and meet its expectations, it is necessary that they understand how intuition works and integrate an intuitive process in their business approach,” adds Francis Cholle. His message is well received. “My daily conversations with Francis Cholle greatly deepen my thinking at a particularly critical time for our company” says Ralph Lauren Fragrances and Beauty President Guillaume de Lesquen, based in New York to orchestrate the brand development on the world stage.
Long before the economic recession Francis Cholle started to advocate the role of intuitive aptitudes and their impact on value creation. Biotherm for Men global marketing director, Charles Haddad is quite satisfied that he could attend one of Francis Cholle’s seminar and acquire tools that explain in a simple language many key aspects of brand development and marketing that he could confusedly feel but could not clearly understand even less so replicate. Today Charles Haddad encourages in his team ” free and spontaneous communication. We then select what we feel is relevant”. “It is not about leaving behind our marketing objectives but rather about dissolving automatic censorship mechanism often inherent to corporate structures.”
Armand de Villoutreys, CEO of Firmenich in Paris and president of Firmenich Fine Fragrance World Division, asserts that he has “learned to approach differently his leadership role in a creative corporation.” And it showed very tangible results! “We started four years ago to integrate into our management practices the principles of Intuitive Intelligence,” says the French executive. “We have been happy to see an accelerated growth of our financial results across continents well above market average.”
© Les Echos n° 20486 dated 08-13-2009 p. 06 (Authorized translation by Peter Camo)
Intuitive intelligence can be a matter of life and death.
In Iraq, we learn that the use of intuition by US soldiers has led to numerous close escapes. This article in the New York Times gives us a glimpse of how soldiers may use their intuitive senses to avoid danger:
“On one route sweep mission, there was a noticeable I.E.D. in the middle of the road, but it was a decoy,” said Lt. Donovan Campbell, who in 2004 led a Marine platoon for seven months of heavy fighting in Ramadi and wrote a vivid book, “Joker One,” about the experience. “The real bomb was encased in concrete, a hundred meters away, in the midst of rubble. One of my Marines spotted it. He said, ‘That block looks too symmetrical, too perfect.’ ”
These life-and-death decisions must be made instantly, with little, if
any, time for rational analysis. And what’s more impressive, the Army
has discovered that this ability to think intuitively can be improved through training.
Time after time, the Army learns from its feet on the ground, 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.”
Of course, intuitive intelligence is not a new idea for the Army. In COUP D’OEIL: STRATEGIC INTUITION IN ARMY PLANNING, a 2005 document produced by Strategic Studies Institute at US Army War College, we see a serious attempt to blend both analytic and intuition.
Analytic decision-making approaches a problem systematically. Leaders analyze a problem, generate several possible solutions, analyze and compare them to a set of criteria, and select the best solution. The analytic approach aims to produce the optimal solution to a problem from among those solutions identified. This approach is methodical, and it serves well for decision-making in complex or unfamiliar situations by allowing the breakdown of tasks into recognizable elements. It ensures that the commander and staff consider, analyze, and evaluate all relevant factors.
It may help inexperienced leaders by giving them a methodology for their lack of experience. The analytic approach to decision-making serves well when time is available to analyze all facets affecting the problem and its solution. However, analytic decision-making consumes time and does not work well in all situations–especially during execution, where circumstances often require immediate decisions.
Intuition, on the other hand, is viewed as a “creative” approach:
Intuitive decision-making is the act of reaching a conclusion that emphasizes pattern recognition based on knowledge, judgment, experience, education, intelligence, boldness, perception, and character. This approach focuses on assessment of the situation versus comparison of multiple options. It is used when time is short, or speed of decision is important. Intuitive decision-making is faster than analytic decision-making in that it involves making decisions based on assessment of the situation rather than a comparison of multiple COAs (Courses of Action). It relies on the experienced leader’s ability to recognize the key elements and implications of a particular problem or situation, reject the impractical, and select an adequate (rather than optimal) COA.
Intuitive decision-making is especially appropriate in time-constrained conditions. It significantly speeds up decision-making. Intuitive decision-making, however, does not work well when the situation includes inexperienced leaders, complex or unfamiliar situations, or competing COAs. Additionally, substituting assessment for detailed analysis means that some implications may be overlooked. Commanders use intuitive decision-making when time is short and problems straightforward. It is usually appropriate during execution.
The Army, especially in light of Iraq, has revised their thinking. The author of the report, a Columbia Professor William Duggan shows how to reconcile analytical and intuitive methods of
decision-making by drawing on recent scientific research that brings the
two together. He applies this new research to the Army’s core methods
of analytical decision-making as found in Field Manual (FM) 5-0, Army Planning and Orders Production. The result is “strategic intuition,” which bears remarkable resemblance to von Clausewitz‘s idea of coup d’oeil in his classic work, On War.
The Columbia professor states emphatically:
This divide between analysis and intuition reflects an outmoded view of the human mind that science no longer supports. Recent advances in how the mind works have overturned the old idea that analysis and intuition are two separate functions that take place in two different parts of the brain. In the new view, analysis and intuition are so intertwined that it is impossible to sort them out. There is no good analysis without intuition, and no good intuition without analysis. They go together in all situations. Some scientists call the new model of the brain “intelligent memory,” where analysis puts elements into your brain and intuition pulls them out and combines them into action.
It is important to note that this ireport does not criticize the Army or its commanders. When strategic intuition was used as a lens to analyze Army officers in action, they tend to comment, “That’s what we do.” The report states: Good commanders use intuitive intelligence. They treat manuals only as guides, and adapt procedures as they see fit.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you need Intuitive Intelligence – it is the bridge between analysis and intuition, and it explains how we, in fact, really make decisions. Despite the limited visibility in these uncertain and turbulent times, we know that Intuitive Intelligence is the necessary strategic aptitude for decision-makers both in the Army and in the chaotic world of today’s business.
According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, L’Oréal SA, the world’s largest cosmetics maker, reported flat sales
for the first quarter of 2009 as consumers shied away from its luxury
skin creams and shampoos in favor of its cheaper brands. The maker of products ranging from Giorgio Armani perfume to Lancôme
skin cream and Maybelline eye shadows said sales increased 0.3% to
€4.37 billion ($5.83 billion) in the first three months of 2009.
Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oréal’s chief executive, said that he would not offer
specific guidance for the year but that results would “improve” during
After accounting for the effect of currency fluctuations, sales fell
9.3% in Western Europe and 5% in North America. This shortfall was
partly offset by an increase in revenue in Asia.
Sales at L’Oréal’s luxury cosmetics division fell, while sales of its consumer drugstore lines increased slightly.
This is an unfortunate turn for L’Oréal which has always been known for its commitment to scientific research and exceptional financial results.
In fact, you might say there is an unresolved tension in its culture between creativity and business results. This tension is visible even on its website. If you read about the “profiles they are looking for” under the marketing category, here’s a description you’ll find:
Creativity, imagination, openness to new ideas – coupled with the highest professionalism.
• Project-oriented, natural team player, at ease working with others in an environment of entrepreneurial challenge.
• Global-minded, flexible, able to juggle multiple priorities.
• Strong analytical thinker, excellent communicator.
You have a keen eye on the latest fashions, a finger on the pulse of emerging consumer and cultural trends. Highly developed interpersonal skills, a passion for results. The personality to make a difference.
Diagnosis: L’Oréal – When East dominates West…
The challenge: help marketers and managers develop a sensitivity to the creative nature of the beauty
product development process and specifically gain an understanding
for the process of research and development.
When the cosmetic group decided to develop a world wide talent appraisal process Sir Lindsay Owen Jones articulated the need to develop a competence key to the success of the group in the eye of the CEO, and that is: sensitivity to métier. What Sir Lindsay Owen Jones was aiming for was to develop a global, shared understanding for beauty products development, for L’Oréal customers, and for a number of other confidential important characteristics identified by the CEO as key factors for success in the beauty industry.
The Human Company was commissioned to research how to define this specific aptitude and how to develop it and train for it. We developed an international training track that is seen today as one of the most successful and inspiring training program available at L’Oréal.
Our approach consists in helping marketers understand how to engage and inspire creative people to contribute the best of their creativity. We used the The Intuitive Compass™ to highlight the tension between results-driven managers and creative teams.
Our analysis: L’Oréal has a product innovation driven business model whereas most of its competitors have often a market-driven model. The company believes in scientific innovation to promote growth. Its founder was a scientist. It is how L’Oréal sustained 20 years of double-digit growth and became the world leader in cosmetics. There is, as I mentioned earlier, a tension in its culture between creativity and business results.
Results: We helped L’Oréal’s teams understand the perspective of the different teams. The creative teams learned about the business aspects they had neglected, while the managers and marketers were helped to understand the creative process. The bridge is intuitive intelligence. Our training program is seen today as one of the most successful and inspiring training program available at L’Oréal. (Average rating: 19.5/20) because it is very relevant with the innovation imperative prevailing in the beauty Industry, articulated by the CEO Jean Paul Agon in his mandate.
I just got back from delivering the keynote at the Fashion Institute of Technology‘s 2009 Capstone Presentations and Graduation Reception.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen how teams of students have used the ideas we discussed, both on creativity and applied intuitive intelligence, to learn more about the possibilities for exploring new avenues for growth. They are full of enthusiasm and passion for their work – and that is what true education is about. May they keep the fire with them always!
Thanks to everyone for such a wonderful evening: FIT’s Dr. Joyce Brown and Professor Stephan Kanlian, our gracious hosts; my industry colleagues: Karen Grant, Marc Gobe, Candace Corlett, and Mark Pritchard; and of course, Ellen Byron from the Wall Street Journal.
And most importantly, thank you to the students. Yours is the task of building a tomorrow that keeps us alive, hopeful, and yes, sometimes, truly joyful!
My keynote presentation is available here >>
We know that innovation is more about people and culture than it is about process and structures. Yet many executives find themselves unable to inspire their teams and foster a culture of innovation. This is not a new theme in management thinking, but it is one that has never been more important.
Early on, as my work took me deep into this realm – the world of intuitive intelligence – I struggled to build a model to explain why this was so. And so it was by accident, and by now we know that there are no accidents, that the model of The Intuitive Compass™ took shape:
Oddly enough, I was using Cartesian coordinates to explain the flaws in our linear thinking. The two principal axes, Play-Results and Instinct-Reason, give us four quadrants (NE, SE, SW, NW). Each of these quadrants represents a function or even a mindset in an organization. Let’s make a few generalizations to explain the framework:
The NE quadrant is the area where reason and results prevail. This is the realm of business administration and management. Most companies excel in this department, led by teh twin beacons of “maximizing shareholder value” and “cost management.”
The SE quadrant is the area where instinct is at the core and results are the rule of the game. This is the mindset one finds in a sales department, or in an athlete.
The NW quadrant is the area where reason engages in a creative thinking process as in strategic planning or marketing (think of an architectural firm or engineering company).
Finally, the SW quadrant is the area where instincts are at the heart of the creative process to invent and create from the unknown and the depth of the unconscious. This is where creators, scientists, researchers, and inventors experience eureka moments. Most executives and almost all companies, even those engaged in creative fields, lack a way to connect this quadrant back into the rest of the business.
The Intuitive Compass™ becomes a tool we can apply to assess and chart progress as companies (and executives) learn to harness intuitive intelligence in four key areas:
Strategy: how to employ intuitive intelligence to create sustainable, innovative business models which deliver real value to customers in their local environment.
Leadership: the transformative power of intuitive intelligence energizes, and builds movements – with clarity of vision and purpose.
Work Culture: the ecosystem health of your business culture is reflected in your bottom line results. The Intuitive Compass™ helps create the open culture you need to succeed in the intelligent economy.
Consumer Needs: map your customers needs and wants using The Intuitive Compass™ – creating a value innovation agenda for your customers.
The bottom line is convergence – with customers, employees, management and leadership.
Going forward, we’ll use The Intuitive Compass™ to chart how companies and leaders can use intuitive intelligence to shape the future – both in their industries and in the larger world.
How many times do we see a business leader make a decision without a lot of data, seemingly without deliberation, and make the right call?
Not very often, in the “western” world.
But every so often we encounter that rare leader who makes impossible decisions and, time and again, gets it right. This is not an accident, we tell ourselves, as we look for clues to try to understand this phenomenon we are witnessing.
What we are experiencing is Intuitive Intelligence in action.
Intuitive Intelligence lies beyond the boundaries of science and analytics. It bridges the realms of reality and imagination, reason and instinct, material and spiritual dimensions of human existence. Intuitive Intelligence is non-linear, a key skill for success in the new economy, an economy driven by constant disruption and chaos.
Intuitive Intelligence is defined as the combination of 4 abilities:
– The ability to think holistically
– The ability to think paradoxically
– The ability to listen and connect to oneself and others
– The ability to lead by influence rather than design
Business is not about money. It’s not even about shareholder value (ask Jack Welch!).
Business is about servicing our communities and allowing people to express their talents and genius for the betterment of our society.
Money is one very necessary component of business and it keeps the human engine going but it is not the engine.
Business success is achieved through the power of human creativity and organization and depends on individuals – people – complex beings in relationship with an unpredictable environment called nature. No human experience can be fully represented by a mathematical equation (ask artificial intelligence experts!) and the unpredictability of nature cannot be comprehended, let alone mastered.
Yet we realized only recently that besides the financial bottom line there should be other criteria to set business goals and measure the results of human organizations. The business impact on the surrounding ecosystems and its influence on humans are factors rarely placed at the center of corporate strategy. Intuitive Intelligence™ helps us move from a conservative fragmented business approach that focuses on financial results as the ultimate goal, to a wholesome business view where people, society and natural ecosystems are all part of the picture, with money seen as only simply a resource, a means to an end. All aspects of business are inseparably taken into account as a whole for maximum efficiency and sustainability.
As much as business can be taught, it is still a rather random process similar in this to the creative process of life. Many leaders focus on economic results believing that it is the shortest way to achieve their goals. The paradox is that empowering people and relationships are the key to better financial results. In 2004 neuroscience was finally able to establish a fact known for millennia by ancient civilizations: the human mind is more unconscious than it is conscious. For that matter, engaging the unconscious in people is more effective than focusing on the conscious part of their mind. This is the paradoxical thought process. As psychologist David G. Myer puts it: “under the surface lies a lot of intelligence above a lot of delusion.”
In order to be in touch with the unconscious aspect of our lives we need to pay attention to subtle details and to our emotions, which are indicative of our perceptions, whether conscious or unconscious. Our emotions fashion our thoughts, which lead to our actions; our actions turn into habits that finally shape our character. And as we know, character is essential to leadership. A charismatic leader will communicate without necessarily taking in the other person’s emotions, perceptions and environment and will attract dedicated followers; a leader who demonstrates self-awareness and manifests empathy will empower and inspire people with character who are more likely to take risk and think autonomously – two attitudes well needed to succeed in times of radical change.
This kind of sensitivity operates at a fundamental level of equality between individuals and induces trust, respect, and interdependence three necessary factors to foster creativity and lead a culture of high performance. Moreover when a leader is able to listen to others and oneself with such a sensitivity he or she takes in all sorts of creative information about consumers and their environment, about an industry and its trends.
LEAD BY INFLUENCE
Innovation is one of the most critical factors for success in today global economy. It relies on systems and processes, yet it depends even more on the creativity of people and corporate cultures. Creativity finds its inspiration beyond the motivation of financial gain or economic achievement. It stems from dreams and ideals and pertains more to utopia than pragmatism.
Organizations seeking innovation cannot rely only on a pragmatic leadership model rooted in a purely economic approach (leadership by design). Such a leadership model sets goals and objectives, covers budgets and schedules and relies on the alignment of teams to execute the corporate vision. Leadership by influence, however, is on the opposite side of the spectrum. It perceives any human organization as a living interconnected web and the relationship with consumers as a dynamic collaborative system. And for that matter it focuses on facilitating and guiding the natural emergence of creativity to reach innovative business solutions. It puts the emphasis on engaging and influencing teams and consumers rather than motivating and controlling them. It conveys a strong sense of meaning within visions and goals to reach that place in each one of us where creativity thrives and can be awakened. In practical terms, a leader guided by intuitive intelligence ensures that all systems and processes are in the service of the human factor and its ecosystem rather than an isolated attempt to rationalize business and reach financial goals. He or she inspires uniquely magnetic organizations fired up with enthusiasm and a strong sense of possibility. In this way, leading with intuitive intelligence creates virtuous circles and enables teams to believe, manifest autonomy, and succeed.
Intuitive Intelligence is a powerful leadership attribute. It is not a tool to devise the future, but an instrument that points our attention towards the invisible. Intuitive Intelligence brings us closer to understand the transformative and creative nature of our organizations as well as their interdependence with their environments. It is a means to take in unexpected information or paradoxical data and to feed our analytical and rational thinking with subtle creative perceptions. In this way intuitive intelligence bridges the rational and the irrational realms, the conscious and unconscious dimensions, the inner and the outer, the material and immaterial aspects of any business and allows for truly evolutionary leadership.