Tag Archives: the Intuitive Compass

Is Culture the Culprit?

Human resources and corporate hierarchy concept - recruiter complete team by one leader person (CEO) represented by gold cube and icon.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.

The Intuitive Compass™: a model for creativity and agility

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 11.28.55 PMExcerpted from Francis Cholle’s The Intuitive Compass, Jossey-Bass

The business world has been turned upside down by the rapid adoption of technological innovations and the globalization of many industries.  Today, the creativity of corporate executives is increasingly called for in all areas of business, and courageous behavior is needed as much as creative thinking.  Increasingly complex market scenarios laden with erratic disruptors require executives to have the confidence to step into the unknown and make decisions even in the face of confusion.  Although traditional business thinking typically focuses on three- to five-year strategies created with sophisticated analytical processes and logical reasoning, this approach is no longer ideal.  Because the future is uncertain expert systems software or scenario planning methodologies are at best limited tools. Today’s fast-emerging, often unpredictable scenarios call for an agile imagination to seize emerging opportunities, and a new model that allows for such.

The Intuitive Compass™ was designed to help us develop new behaviors and new ways to make decisions.  It is a tool to help us access our instinct and leverage play in order to innovate, develop disruptive ideas, imagine new sustainable business solutions, and reinvent the way we approach value creation.  The Intuitive Compass™ was invented to help organizations thrive in the new economy while enhancing the sustainability of our practices.

We’ve already begun to look at the influence of play in our approaches to innovation, the role of instinct in leadership and value creation and the tension that each faces:  play lives in tension with our need for results, and instinct lives in tension with our cultural inclinations toward reason and logic.  Play and instinct are the roots of creative imagination, and they both influence our behaviors at their core.  We are instinctual beings by nature and logical beings by culture.  The Intuitive Compass™ simply shows that linear efficiency and logic do not have to dominate our approaches to life and work, and it provides alternative ways to conduct business.   It indicates how to balance and integrate the best of what both logic and instinct have to offer.

The Compass is organized around the usual four cardinal point one finds in a navigation compass: north, east, south, and west.

In the north you find reason (our capacity to conceive ideas and analyze data) and opposite, in the south, you find instinct (our capacity to survive and adapt).  In the east you find results, representing the outcome of linear efficiency, and opposite, in the west, you find play, which represents an erratic process comparable to the creative process.  This diagram shows play and instinct coming together in the southwest quadrant, where creativity can be unleashed.  The Intuitive Compass™ is designed to help people better understand where creative ideas come from and how to access their own genius and uncover meaningful ideas.  It make the complexity of the creative process simple to see and it provides a clear roadmap to creative problem solving.

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Need to Succeed Today?

In my upcoming book, The Intuitive Compass (Jossey, Bass Oct 2011), I write extensively about the need for business leaders to use what I call Intuitive Intelligence to tap into their ability to effectively manage their employees and generate innovative business strategies and solutions in a complex global marketplace. Before I give you a preview of what Intuitive Intelligence is, it is worthwhile to look at how culture, society, and science have tried to understand and measure intelligence. Read More

BP crisis: our shared responsibilities toward a new path to success

BP oil spill nearshore trajectory june18 2010
The tragedy in the Gulf continues. By now we’ve all seen the horrendous images of seabirds, fish, dolphins, and other forms of aquatic life – dead or dying, helpless as they slither about covered in oil, an agonizing sight for all the world to see.  We’ve seen the Cajun shrimpers bemoan the loss of their lifestyle, and we are witnessing a slow, lingering devastation – as the sea itself seems to be gasping for breath. Read More