Active Intuition. (Episode 127)

Active Intuition. (Episode 127)

Interview with Mauro Porcini, SVP & Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo.


Here is what most people get wrong about intuition: They think intuition just “happens”. It doesn’t.

The reason for this misunderstanding could come from how the word is defined. Intuition is defined as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.”

And instinctively is defined as “without conscious thought; by natural instinct.”

But intuition is not something that happens by instinct. It happens by action. Previous action, to be precise.

If we look at the etymology of the word “intuition” it becomes much more interesting.  “Intuition” comes from the Latin word “intueri” meaning  “look at, consider”,  from in-  meaning “at, on”  and tueri meaning “to look at, watch over”.

So intuition means to see. To see the answer.

And when you realise that the word “tueri” also gave us the word “tutor” you can come to an interesting conclusion: intuition is our teacher. Just like a good tutor helps us see, our intuition is the teacher who teaches us wise things based on what we have previously seen ourselves.

So from that we can learn:

Intuition means to see.

The more we see, the stronger our intuition will become.

So we should pay attention to what we choose to look at.

Because what we look at becomes our teacher.

Conclusion: Intuition is the reward for the act of previously paying attention.

I learned about the power of active intuition from Mauro Porcini, SVP & Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo. In his role, he is in charge of everything from developing an innovation culture to managing 17 design studios around the world with hundreds of creatives who handle many billion-dollar brands and loads of other brands as well. One day he is working on the global re-fresh of the Pepsi brand and the next he is overlooking the company’s activities at the Super Bowl and the next day he will be in Asia understanding how Asian trends in snacking are changing.

It’s a job that is impossible to master without intuition, and Mauro is a big believer in the art of intuition.

He told me: “Creativity is intuition in action”

And he explained how important it is in his job to constantly experience new things in order to feed his intuition. Mauro: “The people who lose the connection to their powerful intuition are the people who fall into the trap of their own arrogance. The people who think they now ‘know’ and who stop learning.”

To have a healthy intuition we constantly need to refill it with new things that we see. Mauro stressed that intuition is not something we are born with. We are born with curiosity,  but intuition is something that we earn. And we earn it from paying attention to what’s going on.

And we should make an effort to develop it, because as Mauro calls it: “Intuition is accelerated reasoning.”

To work on the creative vision and mission of a global multi-billion-dollar company with over 300,000 employees and with some of the biggest brands on the planet is a huge creative challenge. Especially when you work in the very fast and fickle industry of FMCG (Fast-moving consumer goods).

This forces Mauro to make sure he is “constantly inspired” about what’s happening in the world. A big part of his job is to travel, attend events, meet with customers, speak at conferences. Another big part of the job is research, understanding customer trends and sentiments. In the words of Mauro: “We need to be connected to what’s happening in the world.”

It’s all that input and inspiration that create the ingredients for his intuition.

Mauro has understood that while intuition might feel like magic that just arrives and tells you what to do, it is actually a careful process of feeding your intuition with interesting and relevant things that you notice so that your intuition can then come back with an answer you would never have been able to come up with yourself.

So understand that intuition is about being able to see the answer.

But to be able to see the answer you need to previously have been paying attention by looking at your world.

Are you looking at your world?

Are you paying attention?

Are you feeding your intuition so that it can feed you?

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