Mauro Porcini


Highlights from the book “The Human Side of Innovation. The Power of People in Love with People”.

There is a unicorn in all of us

if we nurture three key skills


They are visionaries, experimenters, and executors.

They are original and have a unique perspective.

They are intuitive and analytical.

They are proactive, look for the root cause, and go the extra mile.

They are on top of trends—and eventually trendsetters.

They are people in love with people.

They are risk takers but cautious too.

They are aesthetes with an aesthetic sense.

They are holistic designers.

They are both business savvy and tech savvy.

They are kind, sincere, and trustworthy.

They are in love with diversity.

They are empaths and have an elevated emotional intelligence.

They are dialectical conductors of multilingual orchestras.

They are respectful.

They are charismatic storytellers.

They are generous mentors.

They avoid taking themselves too seriously and know how to have fun.



They are curious.

They are humble but confident and self-aware.

They are attentive listeners but quick to decide and act.

They are optimistic and resilient.

They are comfortable with discomfort.

They are change agents.


The Fundamental Principles

Human: Useful, Emotional, and Semiotic


Innovative: New, Unique, Distinct, and Extraordinary

The Enabling Principles

Aesthetically Sustainable
The third principle of meaningful design is that it is beautiful, harmonious, pleasing to the senses, without any redundancy.


Functionally Sustainable
The fourth principle specifies that meaningful design is practical, efficient, convenient, and ergonomic.


Emotionally Sustainable
The fifth principle is that meaningful design is attractive and engaging.


Intellectually Sustainable
The sixth principle is that meaningful design is accessible, intuitive, and user-friendly.


Socially Sustainable
The seventh principle of meaningful design is that it is respectful, ethical, honest, and trustworthy.


Environmentally Sustainable
The eighth principle is that meaningful design is eco-friendly.


Financially Sustainable
The ninth principle specifies that meaningful design is valuable to the business and economically accessible to the user.

The Clarifying Principles



Poetic and Expressive



Foreword by
Ramon Laguarta, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo

When I became CEO of PepsiCo in 2018, one of my first initiatives was to organize a two-day meeting every month for our top executives to co-create the vision and mission of the company together with me. On the first day of the first meeting, during one of the breaks, I approached our Chief Design Officer, Mauro Porcini. I told him that I had a special assignment for him. I needed him to be one of those persons on the leadership team who think differently. I asked him to bring design thinking into the mix. To question our assumptions. I asked him and his teams around the world to bring the mindset of the disruptors to a company that wanted to shake things up. By that point, Mauro had been leading our Design function since its formation in 2012. For the first six years of its existence, Design had been operating with a start-up mindset, a creative group of pioneers churning out high quality work. Now, I wanted PepsiCo to take it to the next level and fully become a design driven company, a company aiming to be the most human centered and innovative organization in the world. That meant Design needed to graduate to a scale-up mindset. And it meant Mauro and his team needed a seat at every table, and they needed to be one of the loudest voices. This elevation of a human centered approach to innovation was directly tied to the changes we were seeing in society – changes that have only accelerated over the past few years. People are demanding what they want, when they want it, at a price they can afford. They want products that are better for themselves and the planet. And they want to feel a personal connection to their favorite brands. In other words, the future of brand building and product innovation, and the future of organizational culture, is human In this book, Mauro explains the steps that any company should take to apply this approach at scale. Let me give you two examples mentioned in these pages and coming from our PepsiCo world. The first is a product innovation example: SodaStream Professional. This is our custom beverage fountain that lets anyone customize their own water experience – from flavors to functional ingredients, to temperature, carbonation and more – adopting re-usable bottles and a QR code to limit single-use plastic and save their personal preferences. SodaStream Professional is a critical tool for building out our ecosystem of customized beverage options, whilst also helping to meet the needs of people who are looking to lead healthier, more sustainable lives. This is what human-centricity is all about. An approach to innovation that creates value for individuals and for society. The second example is related to culture. When I approached Mauro on the first day of our monthly meeting, I wasn’t asking him to design a specific product or experience. I was asking him to help transform our culture by voicing his opinions fearlessly, acting as an owner, and focusing and getting work done fast. And that’s exactly what he has done – and what he talks about in this book. It was part of his instinct and his way thinking and acting. I gave him an opportunity and a platform to unlock his potential. Today we are a company infused with design-led thinking, across our entire portfolio of products. And through this culture we create new reservoirs of value for the end users – the human beings – who engage with our company. These two examples only scratch the surface of Mauro’s insights gained over two decades working in corporations and agencies. In this book, he goes in depth on the mindset and strategies he has used to champion a more people-focused approach to innovation. It is a fascinating study of what it takes to drive change at the team and the organizational levels. And it offers a blueprint for anyone who aspires to build companies and brands, while growing as leaders – and human beings.

Foreword by
Indra Nooyi, Former Chairman and Ceo of Pepsico

I have always loved the language of design – the artistry, the creativity, the ingenuity, the attention to detail. It’s one of the few universal languages capable of evoking a whole range of feelings without a single word. Good design is also good business. Design can help us find new, more powerful ways of making enterprises more dynamic, of engaging people and partners and firing their imaginations. A design driven company is, by definition, human centered and innovative. When I was CEO of PepsiCo, I was determined to make design an integral part of our company’s future. That’s why in 2012 we created our first ever corporate Design team. We knew that to be successful, Design needed to be central to how we ran our business. It needed a voice in the decision making process. And it needed a leader who could command respect in every space he’d enter, from board room to fashion house. In other words, it needed Mauro Porcini. The first time I met Mauro, I knew he was a complete original. One of one. And his influence on PepsiCo has been singular. I like to think of PepsiCo’s history as unfolding in two stages: Before Mauro and After Mauro. Before Mauro, we didn’t understand why great design mattered, much less how to integrate it into what we do. Now, people across the company are lining up to talk to Mauro and his team about designing everything, from concept phase to execution: from unique Pepsi limited edition collections, celebrating different world cultures, to more sustainable beverage dispensers, avoiding single-use plastic, through to innovative food solutions, redefining the way people snack. In this book, he uses the language of design to help his readers understand the human side of innovation. Page by page, he peels back the layers of interpersonal connection and excavates the substance of what moves us, what excites us, what inspires us. Both when it comes to brands and the people who build them. For Mauro, leadership is the secret sauce that transforms design from a concept to a creation. Those who have it all – who combine vision and execution, innovation and productivity, kindness, respect, and optimism – are deemed “unicorns.” While some might argue that unicorns are born not made, Mauro takes a different approach. He believes there is a unicorn in all of us if we nurture three key talents. The first is embracing your entrepreneurial spirit. In many ways, this is about cultivating a mindset that is “both/and” rather than “either/or.” It means honing your analytical abilities, while also sharpening your intuition. Taking big risks, while also being appropriately cautious. Combining the savvy of an MBA with the skills of a CTO and the creativity of an artist. The second is leading with empathy. To drive human-centric innovation, you have to be what Mauro calls a “person in love with people.” Take the time to get to know your colleagues. Treat them with kindness, sincerity, and respect. Earn a reputation as trustworthy. And don’t take yourself too seriously. Knowing when to have fun, occasionally at your own expense, can be the difference between a team that is on edge and a team that is on track. The third is enabling others to succeed. There is no higher compliment than, “This person makes everyone around them better.” And when it comes to human centric innovation, everyone needs to be at their best. As a leader, it’s your job to lift others up by being curious, confident, and decisive. To create space for your colleagues to push boundaries, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Ultimately, what Mauro is saying is that you don’t have to be a CEO or a Chief Design Officer to make these talents a part of your life, to adopt a human-centered approach to innovation and leadership. Anyone can do it. And this book can be your guide. I hope you’ll get started today.

Mauro Porcini © 2022