The Quantum Advantage
An Epiphany: A New Leadership Model
"THAT is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don't know nothing about it." (1)
We were all in the room for what appeared to the casual observer to be yet another of a countless number of corporate meetings. We were meeting as the Strategy Leadership Team and around the table were the brain trust; the best and the brightest and the most diverse we could muster. These assemblies were exhilarating, electrifying, and they were filled with vitality. No one knew quite what to expect at the finish. We loved these gatherings; no one knew what leaps we would take; what transformations would occur. We were in great harmony one with another; at peace with ourselves and with who we were and what business we were about.
Our experiment into the Quantum Organization was in its infancy; just beginning to take some shape. Nevertheless, already we knew that the principles and doctrines of the Quantum Organization were real and true. We knew that we could never willingly go back to the way we were; we could never freely follow a leader or work for a company that was not in harmony with these principles. Of course we knew that we would not always be able to choose with whom we worked, but we were committed to revolutionize the workplace wherever or with whomever our paths intersected.
At an Advantage - Harmony
The process of synchronizing with nature created great harmony within the workgroup and great confidence within the individual. We had a fluid motion within the team, an affinity with efficiency; we emerged an integrated squad. Another byproduct was an enormous ability to focus, to continue the learning. We were drinking up everything we could on the topic of the quantum, self-esteem building, the nature of the universe, the value of the individual, and the connectedness that we all felt.
One of the most profound moments, and as it turned out the cornerstone of our learning, came during a modeling (Metaphorming) session with the entire team. In Metaphorming the first task that must be completed is to agree upon a question to be answered or an issue to be tackled. In this opening session we began with the question "Who am I?" In other words, what are my values, my abilities, desires, likes and dislikes?
Each of us began to build a physical model of who we were, our value system, our priorities, our loves and passions. We spent about 90 of the most creative and revealing minutes of our lives building and then communicating to each other and ourselves our innermost thoughts and beliefs.
We created a bond within the team that cannot be broken and was foundational to establishing team trust and trustworthiness.
On the Edge - Free Thinkers
Another powerful improvement that emerged from the team was the rise in individual confidence. Which in turn was manifested as self-assured freethinkers. We were all amazed at the increase in the self-confidence of the individual as we were able to express our otherwise submerged thoughts and ideas. We had no fears of negative criticism when new or off-the wall opinions were presented for discussion within the group.
We had been successful in changing the culture from one of suspicion and selfishness to one of compassion, hungry for new ideas and thoughts, regardless of how well that notion was developed. We allowed, and even demanded, that diverse beliefs and views were raised before the group and then developed. Each of us had a great sense of accomplishment, as our partially developed ideas were built-up and successfully implemented.
The keys to this achievement were the tools that allowed the undeveloped thoughts to emerge - to emerge without fear of criticism or denigration. Metaphorming played a huge role in providing us a mechanism to begin to communicate partially developed ideas. Dialogue provided a style of communication that promoted a healthy interaction between team members.
A Creative Wellspring
It was startling to observe the flow of ideas, proposals, schemes, and opinions that began to flow from the group. We began to focus on new and exciting initiatives, programs, and projects that we elected to undertake in addition to our normal work duties; and we loved it; accomplishment seemed to be the fuel that powered us and set us in motion.
We wanted to tap into the creative power of the subconscious mind. As an experiment we changed the format of our corporate strategic plan. We believed that rather than spelling out what to do and how to do it in words and text, we would plant strategic thoughts, communicated via pictures and images, throughout the organization - visual seeds if you will.
We selected a nautical theme as the metaphor for our strategic plan. We liked this approach because of the similarities between planning and sailing, such as selecting a destination, setting a course, making course adjustments, and winning the race (e.g. the America's cup yacht race). Sailing provided such beautiful images and icons to feed our creative side such as tropical settings, the wind at your face, and gorgeous sunsets.
Our final product was a stunning animated video filled with images, music, and narration. This video set the direction for the organization in a very clear unforgettable way. The imagery of the America's cup race clearly set a tone of excitement, competition, and urgency. At this point it was so simple to use the icons of sail boat racing, sleek yachts, the rudder to set the course, the sail to catch the market winds, the anchor to ground us in our values and principles, to invoke the strategies and directions of the plan and establish a call to action.
Far-reaching Effects - Rejuvenation
It was also astounding to watch the vitality of the group and the individual increase. It was as if they had all been given a shot of adrenalin; we were having fun and it was contagious. We wanted to discover how this energy could be bottled and preserved, unleashed when it is most needed. This series of articles is a result of our desire to impart our experience and share the secrets that we uncovered.
It was now so clear to us the value of maintaining our individual health and wellness. When we felt good we performed well. We had set in motion core principles that led to tremendous mental well-being. We knew that physical health, personal financial fitness, and harmony in our relationships all contributed to our performance and our personal satisfaction with our work. We came to know that there really is no separation between personal and professional life; there is just life and it was detrimental to try to enforce such an artificial separation.
End Product - Corporate Well-being
It is important for team members in the Quantum Organization to take full ownership - ownership for their work, their mistakes, their successes, and the well-being of the team and the company. Quma Learning, specifically Steve Chandler, has a saying that we took on as a team, "no one is coming." No one is coming to make you happy, no one is coming to do your work or fix your problems, and no one is coming to make the sale or close the deal for you. You own the problem, you are the problem and therefore you are the solution.
The key to taking personal ownership is in the language we use and promote. We did not allow victims within our midst. As a team we did not abide excuses for non performance, such as "Joe did not give me the information in time, or Sally was late, or Bill was supposed to do it." These are the language of victims not owners. Owners say: If Joe did not give me the information in time and since this is my problem, what am I going to do to solve it?
We started to see personal ownership in the Quantum Organization, ownership for the health and success of the corporation. One of the personalities that emerged in the group was one of nurturing, a nurturing of the well being of the company. We took increased ownership of the issues of the corporation. We expanded the scope of our projects, we took a more holistic corporate perspective in all the work that we did. We increased our communication with other groups and teams as we shared our discoveries, thoughts, and ideas.
Believing in Each Other - Dependence
The real muscle of the group became evident when we were able to trust in the skill and ability of each member of the team. It was this ability to depend on each other that really fueled our independence. As we were able to rely on the other members of the team to do their part and to do it well, we no longer had to waste time and resources in redundant effort.
We had an increased expansion of our own ability to get work done, as we were able to trust in others - to economize our knowledge. This trust is a cycle that feeds upon itself, that grows in strength as each team member's skills, self-confidence and self-image improves.
We have barely scratched the surface of this new leadership model we call the Quantum Organization. Nevertheless, it is my hope that we have stirred your thinking just a bit, just enough to start you on a path of exploration and learning.
We have uncovered the science that underpins our theories:
We have outlined some tools you can use in your day-to-day work:
We have talked about the practical application of these principles:
Thank you for coming along on this adventure with me. And thank you in advance for your efforts to discover more about our quantum nature and to contribute to the learning.
Good luck in all that you do and feel free to call on me if you want to know more …
Mark B. Stewart has spent the last 28 years as a corporate executive leader. Currently, he is the CEO of iAccess Communications, a start-up telecommunications services company in Denver, Colorado that provides technical telecommunications services and advanced leadership consulting. He was formerly Vice President of Business Development at Lucent Technologies where he worked to create new opportunities for the Qwest account team, and an executive at US WEST, Inc. Throughout his career Stewart has focused on creating leadership models that create value for the company with a focus on people. Contact Mark by telephone: 303.909.6804 and e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .