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
In 2003, when the Indian auto giant Tata Motors decided to design a new low cost car, the Nano, for lower income consumers they made a key decision: rather than starting from a traditional four wheel car and stripping it down, they would start with an auto-rickshaw (a small, three wheeled vehicle) and build it up. Also, rather than making design assumptions based on decades of auto development for the middle and upper classes, their design team researched the features their new lower income target audience – many of whom had never owned a car before – would value. One of the interesting things they discovered in their research was that their new target audience didn’t care about having a radio; they preferred having extra storage space. At this point in the evolution of car engineering and design, a radio is seen as the most basic of equipment. It’s not terribly expensive, but in the context of trying to make the lowest cost vehicle possible, it could be eliminated and simultaneously transformed into something more valuable to the target consumer: space. Read More
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
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.
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)
Those who criticize Obama’s speech as “just words,” would be well advised to look at history.
In a scene reminiscent of JFK in Berlin and Ronald Reagan exhorting Gorbachev to “tear down the wall,” Barack Obama has taken the initiative with the culture impasse between the West and communities across the Muslim world.
His speech in Cairo has set a new benchmark for leadership:
Not only did he manage to state his case with firmness and resolve, he was able to break through the years of mistrust by standing and acknowledging the truth on both sides.
His sincere yet calm delivery struck the right chord with the people in the streets of Cairo. So says Annelle Sheline, a Cairo-based American journalist:
In a taxi, I asked the driver for his opinion, and he launched into a
happy spiel in heavy Cairene about Obama wanting peace and trying to
make all the countries of the world work together. When I asked if this
was possible, he responded that there had never been a president like
Obama in the US, and therefore, “Aiwa, mumkin” (Yes, it’s possible).
His strategy was to understand that the imagination of the people resides in the South-West Quadrant of the Intuitive Compass™. He examines the hopes of the people in the street, and addresses them.
Sheline tells us that Dalia Mogahed, the executive director of Gallup’s Center for Muslim Studies had outlined the three points indicated by polls that Muslims wanted to hear.
Respect from the United States for the religion of Islam and for Muslim cultures.
No more unilateral action, but cooperation between equal partners.
Address the policies of the United States that have angered Muslims on key issues, including Palestine, Iraq, Guantanamo, etc.
Without respect no trust can be established – without trust little creativity and substance can unfold; without equality there is no real long lasting effective change; and, without integrity and introspection there is no growth. Obama’s speech touched on each one of these cornerstones.
Obama seized the initiative and brought the voice of reason back to the table. The President is, like it or not, a living symbol – and nothing is more
powerful than symbolic action in an atmosphere of suspicion and
hostility. The Times reports:
Barack Obama must have said something right if Osama bin Laden, Ayatollah
Khamenei of Iran and the Jewish settlers on the West Bank all lined up to
denounce his speech to the Arab and Muslim worlds.
For too long, the dialog on the future of the Middle East has been dominated by extreme voices. Obama’s speech spoke directly to the aspirations of the common man. He humanized America, by opening up and sharing his personal story.
Words are the weapons of change. Just ask Ted Sorensen.
And now, we see signs that the “Obama Effect” may be sweeping across the Middle East. Iran’s election too, has become a referendum for change.
Earlier, we saw Obama’s overtures in Turkey. The political commentators who were concerned that Barack Obama‘s visit to Turkey was high on style but low in substance may not be as right they believe they are. Their view is focused on the North-East Quadrant of the Intuitive Compass™ – they are focused on measurable results and timelines.
Let’s look at a historical snapshot of public opinion in Turkey, courtesy of Gallup:
Question: If the U.S. can’t get any respect in Turkey, a “secular” democracy, how can they achieve any progress in the Arab world at all?
Flashback: The last attempt at winning the “hearts and minds” of the Muslim world ended in shambles when Bush’s fellow Texan and close friend, Karen Hughes, walked away from the job in total failure. And before her there was the Charlotte Beers‘ propaganda show.
All of which makes President Obama’s short trip to Turkey even more spectacular. He accomplished in two days what the PR-experts couldn’t accomplish in eight years, and he didn’t waste a billion dollars.
How, you ask?
Watch this video of Obama talking to the youth:
These are the same students, who according to to Rupert Murdoch‘s Wall Street Journal, have, for the past eight years,”fostered deep anti-American sentiments exacerbated by an unpopular war in Iraq and a perception that the U.S. is biased toward Muslims.”
What we are witnessing in Obama is the promise of authentic leadership which speaks directly to the heart of people. The most powerful leader of the most powerful country in the world stood in the center of a circle of Turkish students in a university to address their concerns. The circle = cooperation, the center = respect, and addressing concerns = the truth.
With his speech in Cairo, Obama knocked down the psychological wall which separates western culture and the mindset of Islam – now the work at hand is to reach across the wall and shake hands for a brighter future for all. That will happen through the concrete actions people take in the weeks and months ahead.
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.
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.
- Our minds are essentially unconscious (80% of our grey matter is dedicated to subconscious thinking)
- Play gives access to our unconscious
Now we know that:
innovative solutions are limited by our analytical minds, because our
analytical mind knows only what it knows
- Creativity originates in our unconscious. Breakthrough ideas often elude the rational mind
- People can rise above their perceived limits when they are inspired
Our western approach to
education, work, collaboration, or solutions for the future is
dominantly led by rational thinking. We have handicapped ourselves.
sense to the rational mind. This is our gateway to new and paradoxical
information. They are the conduit to creative ideas.
Intuitive intelligence is the ability to combine
our analytical mind with our intuitive aptitudes to solve problems in an
innovative way and succeed in the new economy.
Because we now live in a network
based society consumers have gained an active voice in our businesses.
Relationships with consumers are on a reciprocal basis. We need to
speak to their minds, their emotions and their guts. Authenticity is now
at the heart of commerce. Advertising is about creating relevant narratives for
consumers as much as it is about factual information about products and
We must respect our ecosystems and understand that business is part of an interconnected global web.
These are the primary reasons why I authored the book Intuitive Intelligence, and its application model The Intuitive Compass™.
In this blog I will share my ideas and findings about how to use intuitive intelligence to innovate and create sustainable value in order to succeed in this new, ever-shifting economy.
We’ll look at how and why our intuition is often a better guide to problem-solving than reason alone.
We’ll explore ways to use The Intuitive Compass™ and make a difference – in business strategy, leadership, innovative work culture, consumer intelligence, and product development.
Won’t you join us on this journey?
Hi, I’m Francis Cholle, founder of The Human Company. Welcome to my blog on Intuitive Intelligence.
I’m an international author, speaker, seminar leader, and consultative advisor with extensive business experience in a variety of industries from beauty and luxury to communication and IT.
I help organizations nurture and better leverage their creative assets to drive sustainable growth. By designing and implementing original executive development training programs that focus on creative leadership and the management of innovation, my insight and guidance has helped these corporations engage and meet the new challenges of the new economy.
Along the way, I developed the Intuitive Compass™, a tool for executive and strategic decision-making. I provide consulting and mentoring to C-level and senior executives at major, mid-size, and emerging firms across a range of industries.
Recent clients include Alcatel Lucent, Bristol Myers Squibb, Caritas – Secours Catholique, Clarins, Firmenich, L’Oréal, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, SAP-Business Objects, and Siemens.
In January 2008, I started teaching a course at HEC MBA: “Intuitive Intelligence and Innovative Leadership”. We designed the course to encourage executive students to demonstrate a new kind of leadership and help them imagine the defining purpose that drives successful business within the global imperatives of sustainability and innovation.
I earned a Masters in Science of Management from the leading European business school, Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC), rated the best European business school by Financial Times for the fourth consecutive year in 2008. I’m also a graduate of the Creative Problem Solving Institute in Buffalo, NY and I’m accredited to carry out MBTI assessments.I’m a practicing certified consultant of the Tomatis Method for active listening and interpersonal communication.
I have traveled to more than 45 countries and has conducted business in most of them. I’m bilingual in French-English and fluent in German and Spanish. I’ve lived in the US for the past 14 years and reside in Los Angeles, New York, and Paris.
Contact me here >>