The Quantum Advantage
A Practical Leadership Guide for Middle Managers

Part 5
by Mark B. Stewart

A Turning Point: We Must Invest in People

"THE universe, then, is a unified whole that can to some extent be divided into separate parts, into objects made of molecules and atoms, themselves made of particles. But here, at the level of particles, the notion of separate parts breaks down, the subatomic particles-and therefore, ultimately, all parts of the universe-cannot be understood as isolated entities but must be defined through their interrelations." (1.)


In-vest-ment (in vest' ment) n. 1. The investment of money or capital in order to gain profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value. 2. A devoting, using, or giving of time, talent, or emotional energy, etc., as for a purpose or to achieve something. 3. The act of investing with quality, etc.

Risk (risk), n. 1. Exposure to the chance of injury or loss. 2. The degree of probability of such loss. 3. To venture upon; to take or run the chance of. (2.)

So what do we risk; to venture upon; to take or run the chance of what? Webster doesn't give the answer. But, let me suggest this conclusion for Webster: to venture upon, to take or run the chance of greatness, importance, of value. We all have the opportunity to achieve greatness even if it is only in the eyes of a few, even if we only change the life of the one.

In the course of studying the sciences of the quantum, chaos, and complexity we inevitably come across the wonderful quandary of the Butterfly Effect; Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?(3.) This phenomenon is a study in non-linear equations. Nonlinear systems are foundational to chaos theory and often show signs of exceptionally unique and complex characteristics each time they are solved. Well who really knows about butterflies? As with the butterfly can we really determine what is the long-term impact of the changes we make in our small corner of the world-of our implementation of the Quantum Organization?

And in the same spirit of the Butterfly Effect, you will probably recall the famous compound interest story about the Emperor of China who offered the inventor of the game of chess one wish. The inventor replied that he wanted one grain of rice on square one of the chessboard, two grains on the second square, four on the third and so on through square sixty-four. The unsuspecting emperor agreed to the seemingly humble request. But two raised to the sixty-fourth power is eighteen million trillion grains of rice - more than all the rice in China. The skillful inventor did not obtain all the rice in China; he did however loose his head.

Ralph Waldo Emerson helps us understand the tremendous potential in all of us:

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."

Do we really have any idea of the long-term and far-reaching impacts of our work - of the seeds we sow? As with the Butterfly Effect or the compound interest story, we may be responsible for spectacular global changes through the small things we do, by investing in the individual - by valuing people.

In parts 1 and 3 we were introduced to the concept of strange attractors. Strange attractor is the name scientists have affixed to those few fundamental principles that drive complex systems. Do you remember our tree metaphor in part 3? We discussed that attempting to manage the health and well being of every leaf and branch individually would be a hopeless exercise in ineffectiveness. However, if we attend to the roots of the tree, the leaves and branches will emerge with form and beauty.

So how do we apply this principle of strange attractor in the workplace - with people? Let me suggest this by way of example, instead of managing the project we attend to the needs of the people - instead of supervising we lead. Rather than coaching we participate together - we learn from each other. In place of empowering we share power - rather than talking we listen. As an alternative to being served we serve others. The individual may just be the single most important strange attractor of all

Value Investing

Value investing is named for the technique of choosing investments on the basis of their essential value - finding the golden nuggets that are otherwise hidden from view. So it is with people. As leaders we must know the people we work with. We must become familiar with their diverse talents - their uniqueness.

There is power in diversity as I discovered several years ago. In 1983 I found myself working in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the information systems (IS) business. We were building and staffing a new $150,000,000 data center. The job pool of computer workers and programmers in Albuquerque was pretty much exhausted at that time. In order to meet our burgeoning need for top IS professionals we had to carry out a nationwide search.

We brought in top talent from all parts of the country. We ended up with teams of experts with a marvelous blend of experiential, cultural, and ethic backgrounds - we had a truly diverse lineup.

In the fifteen years that I had spent in the industry I had never been a part of a more creative, energetic, motivated, and truly happy workgroup. Our productivity soared - the new creative ideas flowed like water - we all loved our work and it showed. We had experienced the thrill of true diversity - not some farce of a governmental program lacking in spirit and character - focusing on the superficial.

In the latter years of the 20th century we incorrectly labeled programs like Affirmative Action as diversity programs. While these programs were important in raising our awareness and setting the stage for true diversity in the workplace, they are not in and of themselves the end point. There is amazing power and importance in bringing diverse experiences, viewpoints, skills, talents and abilities to the corporate table. It is time for us to move on - to move past these outdated administrative programs and to experience the value of true diversity.

So how do we start? One way is to take personal responsibility to convey what value we individually bring to the table. Simply put, why should a place be saved for us at the table at all? Surely, not because of the color of our skin, but because of the rich experiences that are our heritage - that makes us unique that makes us who we are. Because of our talents, our training, our skills, our education - all born out of hard work and effort.

So what really is our investment? It is money and materials, our time; we invest in training the correct principles and doing it with quality. We make investments in ourselves as we change our own personal paradigms-as we walk our talk. We take risks and we protect others as they work at changing the heart and mind of the organization. In other words, we invest in people - we invest in change.

Changing the Culture

The challenges of taking on the "corporate culture" are not insignificant. Many a good person has gone down with his ship trying to sail over that corporate reef. Simply put, there are roadblocks (and solutions) ahead for the managers that want to change the outdated paradigms of corporate America.

The most difficult of challenges is the task of overcoming the conventional management wisdom. The farther up the management chain you go the more entrenched the conventional management paradigm. After all these corporate giants rose to the top of the greatest companies in America on the back of Newtonian mechanistic thinking. But like any pyramidal system, current hierarchical styles tend to benefit those at the top much more than those of us at the bottom.

So how can we overcome the culture - contain the inertia? If you can find an executive sponsor use him or her to help define and promote the Quantum Organization.

1. Select one that is forward thinking and demonstrates some entrepreneurial spirit.

2. Put together a sales plan as you would with any customer or account:

a. Prepare a presentation with a benefit statement;
b. Develop a timeline with milestones and resources required;
c. Identify who the stakeholders might be;
d. Define the role you want your sponsor to play;
e. Acknowledge the risks - to the company and to your sponsor;
f. Be sure to quantify outcomes and return on investment.

3. Schedule an appointment and close the sale.

As with any sale, some you will win and some you will lose. But all is not lost without a corporate executive sponsor. The task is the same. Work within the scope of your current management assignment. Work laterally within the organization. Dust off that executive sales presentation and work it with peers; work at plus or minus one level within the organization. Work with suppliers and vendors. Require them to use quantum organizational techniques in order to work with you.

Surround yourself and your team with positive affirmations. Change your websites, business cards, letterhead, plaques, brochures, and email.

Put together a team project to write an ebook on the new management process. It is a proven and well-known fact that writing and teaching new principles are the best tools available to reinforce learning; writing about a topic is the most powerful means we have to help define and clarify our thinking.

The better informed, prepared, and indoctrinated we are the better we will be at communicating our message. This leads to increased credibility and credibility is key.

Finally, nothing is a more powerful reason for change than good performance and we know that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Implement the Quantum Organization at whatever level that you can and start to enjoy the increased benefits as quickly as possible. Do not let a minute go by that you are not communicating the value and benefits that you are seeing. However, you will find that the best advertisement will be the people on the team - these are the best evangelists.

We had a very enlightening experience while presenting a business strategy plan to our executive leadership team. Several of the team had a part in the presentation. The enthusiasm and passion was so obvious that members of the leadership team noticed and commented on it. Almost in unison the group began to extol their love for their work, their eagerness to begin each day, and the bonds that were created between one another. The looks on the faces of the executives were priceless - they wanted to know more - they wanted to know how we did it.

Once we truly understand and experience the power of the Quantum Organization we can never really go back to the previous style. There will be a lot of resistance. In the wee hours of the night we may begin to question whether it is possible to make real change - even whether it is worth it. But, like any revolution it is given life by way of a thought or an idea in the hearts of passionate people who want to make a difference. William Jennings Bryan put it this way "Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."

Changing Our Notion of Risk

It is critical that a manager surround himself or herself with good people, bright intelligent people that have a good self-image and are willing to take on and slay the corporate goliaths. The risks of taking on the corporate "wisdom" can be significant. We risk reputations, careers, compensation, our very jobs, self-respect, and self-esteem.

What we found is that the fear of risk fades. We discovered that the risk of doing nothing is greater than the risks of action - the risks of not being true to one's nature.

Maslow helps us to understand our need for self-actualization and personal fulfillment in his famous hierarchy of needs.

Dr. Abraham Maslow developed a theory of motivation describing the process by which an individual progresses from basic needs to the highest needs of what he called self-actualization - the fulfillment of none's greatest human potential. (4.)

The message in this pyramid is that once we have satisfied our need for security, or in other words, once we are secure in our employment and secure in who we are, we begin to satisfy our more social needs - our need for enlightenment. It is at this point that a team is primed and ready to take on the corporate culture - to slay the corporate goliaths - to take the risks.

Maslow tells us that this is when the search for enlightenment becomes a need and not some ethereal vision to be hoped for but not achieved. This is when the principles of the Quantum Organization are so compelling that risks of career and professional reputation seem trivial compared to the risk of not being true to oneself.

Changing How We Trust

The key to making the Quantum Organization actually happen is creating an atmosphere of trust. To encourage and convince people to take risks can only happen when trust is part of the foundation. This means strong relationships, as we will discuss later. It entails friendship and caring; it implies community. It gives rise to physically powerful bonds between people. Trust is really foundational to healthy associations on the job as well as in all walks of life.

What we found to our surprise and mortification was how little real trust existed in our workplace. We uncovered a foundational flaw in our workplace relationships. We were surprised because we felt like our group was exceptionally close and well adjusted. We were mortified because of the huge gulf that we had discovered between us and who we thought we were and who we wanted to be. We saw the chinks in our armor of self-image.

We had to close the gap of our fear and suspicion sufficiently to allow the Quantum Organization to form.

There was no shortcut to closing this gulf. There was no silver bullet; there was no quick fix. Foundations of trust take time to pour and a lifetime to cure.

Our key to establishing trust was to be trustworthy. We each had to take ownership of the problem of trustworthiness. We had to take risks, we had to allow failure, and we had to be willing to forgive and to learn from our mistakes.

We started by revealing personal information about ourselves and we trusted the team to be discreet with that delicate information.

You will recall the metaphorming example we talked about in part 4. Each of us began to build a physical model of who we were, our value system, our priorities, our loves and passions. We revealed to each other 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. We used metaphorming, dialogue, dialogue, and more dialogue. We trusted and gave each other the chance to be trustworthy.

Changing Personal Ownership

The critical characteristic of personal ownership - no one is coming to make this happen, no one is coming to make the corporate goliaths behave, no one is coming to insure success, no one is coming - we must do it ourselves. There is a requirement and attending power of personal ownership in delivering a new leadership paradigm.

Our team attended a course from Quma Learning entitled the Ownership Spirit. The materials in this course revealed the power in language - the power in positive thinking.

Quma taught us about ownership through words that lead to success (owner) vs. words that lead to failure (victim). Examine each of the words or phrases in the table below and think about your state of mind after each. Do you feel a call to action or do you feel hopelessness - a lack of energy? (5.)

Owner Victim
I want to. I am swamped.
Count on me. I should.
Count me in. I ought to.
What can we do? There is no solution.
What else can I do? They're making me do it.
When do we start? No one has ever done that.
Buy-in. That's not how we do it.
Possibility. Restriction.
I'll make time. I'm preoccupied.
We can make it work. That'll never work.

Quma Learning's Ownership / Victim Words

Can you sense the absolute power of taking personal ownership? Do you see the difference ownership language makes in empowering you? Consider the following statements:

1. How in the world will I ever get this project in on time? Jane did not deliver the supply chain process. What is wrong with her? Doesn't she realize how important this is? I don't have the time to do this for her. It will be her fault if this project is incomplete. She has really put me in a bind. There is nothing I can do.

2. This project is due at the end of next week and I have a problem. I need a supply chain process up and running by Wednesday. It does not look like I can count on Jane. What am I going to do about it?

Do you see that statement two empowers you to take positive action - to uncover solutions? While statement one causes you think not about solutions, but about how you have been victimized by Jane.

Words can shape our thoughts; they are a call to action. They are the key to our taking ownership of our work, our relationships and even our very lives. When you take ownership of problems you empower yourself to find solutions.

A Focus on Relationships

Quantum science tells us that the most important things in nature; therefore the most important things in our nature are relationships. Experiments were conducted to determine if paired electrons would exhibit, at a distance, the same characteristics they display when side by side. Simply put, these experiments would prove if relationships exist between elementary particles in nature.

The Frenchman Alaine Aspect conducted experiments with paired electrons. The twin electron, confirming quantum theory expectations and demonstrating that there are relationships that endure over distance, reflected whatever you did to the first electron. This work proved that paired electrons remained in a relationship and reacted to one another even though separated by distance; it proved that the foundational elements of the universe form and are in relationships one with another.

Relationships between people are born and nurtured out of dialogue - out of quality interactions one with another. Dialogue is key to building and maintaining relationships - dialogue is impossible without relationships.

So what is dialogue? The great physicist David Bohm gives us his definition: "We need to be able to communicate freely in a creative movement in which no one permanently holds to or otherwise defends his (or her) own ideas."

He goes on to say: "Discussion is almost like a ping-pong game, where people are batting the ideas back and forth and the object of the game is to win or to get points for yourself In dialogue, however, nobody is trying to win. Everybody wins if anybody wins." (6.)

Everybody wins if anybody wins. What a powerful and liberating statement. This is the only foundation possible for building relationships in the Quantum Organization.

What you will uncover as you begin your search for the Quantum Organization is that the most valued treasures in all of life are relationships; so it stands to reason that you must put your maximum effort into building them. Relationships are the source of intellectual growth and stimulation. The source of joy and happiness is sharing with and serving others. This includes not only your peers and associates in the organizations, but your leaders as well.

Robert K. Greenleaf, noted author and lecturer, spent much of his life studying management, organizations, and leadership. He is the developer of the theory of Servant Leadership. This theory has a focus of service to others, sharing power (participative management), and building a sense of community in the workplace.

Greenleaf states that: "A new moral principle is emerging which holds that the only authority deserving one's allegiance is that which is free and knowingly granted by the led to the leader in response to, and in proportion to, the clearly evident servant stature of the leader."

Greenleaf goes on to say that we can, and I think have a moral obligation to, freely follow only servant leaders.

"Those who choose to follow this principle will not casually accept the authority of existing institutions. Rather, they will freely respond only to individuals who are chosen as leaders because they are proven and trusted servants." (7.)

As we build respectful relationships amongst our peers and associates, we must also demand the same from our leadership. The Quantum Organization's cornerstone principle is relationship; that is, quality relationships built upon a foundation of trust, dialogue, respect, sharing, service, equality, ownership, and thoughtfulness.


  1. Fritjof Capra, "The Turning Point," pg. 81.
  2. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition, 1999
  3. The Butterfly Effect is attributed to Edward Lorenz, a mathematician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  4. Funk & Wagnall's New Encyclopedia
  5. Quma Learning, Ownership Spirit, 1996
  6. David Bohm, On Dialogue, 1996
  7. Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership, 1977

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: .

The Quantum Advantage - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Many more articles on Creative Leadership, Leading Change, Performance Improvement and Executive Performance in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 2002 by Mark B. Stewart. All rights reserved.

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