Category Archives: Strategy

Learning About the New Business Paradigm from Generation Y

In March of 2010 I took a Virgin Air flight from Los Angeles to New York and mid-flight (thanks to Virgin’s on-board Internet access) I sent an email to my friend Max to get some feedback on a couple of projects I was working on. Max emailed me right back and said I really should get in touch with Jeff Rosenthal, whom he helpfully copied on the return email. Jeff is one of the co-founders of Summit Series, a community of millennial entrepreneurs that is redefining the relationship between business, politics, and philanthropy in a way that illustrates the dynamics of a new business paradigm. By the time I landed in New York Jeff and I had traded several emails sharing what we each do and are passionate about and he had put me in touch with the woman who would soon become the literary agent for my upcoming book, The Intuitive Compass (Jossey Bass, Oct 2011) . This experience made me curious to learn more about Summit Series, their goals, beliefs, and achievements, and what lessons they can offer to today’s business leaders. Read More

Michael Schrage and the Intuition Fallacy

There’s a post on the HBR blogTell Your Gut to Please Shut Up – by Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, in which he denounces the current trend about intuition as the key to quick, effective, successful decision-making.
Although Schrage’s argument seems to make perfect sense, and his ideas are well articulated, I think this is just another false debate about intuition. Read More

The Future of Magazines & Newspapers: A Conversation

Not long ago, at the airport, I had a conversation with John – a business man in his early 40s. 


Since I consult in the highly-challenged paper media industry I asked him how he feels about reading magazines and papers.

I assist a major firm identify the fundamentals of the media of the future, facilitate a culture of innovation and accelerate the reinvention of their business model. For those of you less familiar with the challenges of this industry in the US  let me tell you what they are in this digital age: Read More

“Intuitive Intelligence” on iTunes U: Top Download

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.

You can download it for free >>
iTunes U gathers more than 250,000 free podcasts of lectures, films, interviews from 600 prestigious universities and institutions from all over the world. The weekly statistics provided by Apple, routinely show 60,000 to 70,000 visitors. Read More

“Digital Intuition” versus Intuitive Intelligence: Where’s the Digital Trust?

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

Intuitive Decision-Making: How Google Bought YouTube

How does an analytic company like Google make its
most important
decisions?

 If we are to believe the Google myth, we learn,
first and foremost,
that they test everything:

We test everything at Google. While Read More

Sustainability: Bill Gates Gets It Wrong?

Hats off to Grist‘s David Roberts for putting together a thought-provoking line of thinking in Why Bill Gates is wrong. And no, he’s not talking about Bing.

At the core, Roberts challenges the hubris of viewing all society’s problems through the lens of innovation.  Read More

The Strategic Role of Human Resources in the New Economy

A while back, I published a short article on the strategic role of Human Resources in the new economy.  The article: Le rôle stratégique des DRH dans les 10 ans à venir is in French, but since I get so many requests to talk about this issue, I’ve translated it here for you.  The main point I’m making is that in today’s disruptive economic climate, HR can and must become a critical differentiator.

The strategic role of Human Resources in the coming years

To generate creative added value is one of the surest ways for companies to win in the global competition today. Innovation is the new imperative. Read More

Les Echos: Les neurosciences au service de l’entreprise

A short article in Les Echos:

Les-Echos-13-08-2009.gif

Translated:

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™).

intuitivecompass.gif

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)

Strategic Intuition: Lessons Learned from Iraq

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.

The Army views the analytic approach as follows:

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.