By Mark B. Stewart
Part 1 - The Human Factor
By Mark B. Stewart
Part 1 - The Human Factor
Part 1 - The Human Factor
For most of my professional life it was drilled into me that our humanness was a distinct weakness. The term "human error" was an indication that people make mistakes and that those mistakes cannot be tolerated - e.g., people need to be more like machines. Machines do not make mistakes, we were told. When the machine breaks, you simply take it out of service, and you fix it. Perhaps the most pejorative concept of all was that when the machine was obsolete you discarded it for a new model. To cast off people in the same way you would an old machine part is wrong, and as we shall soon learn, counter productive.
As I watched people struggle with the insensitive character of time-honored corporate management styles, it was becoming increasingly clear to me that the traditional leadership techniques that I had learned during the prior twenty-five-plus years in the workplace were just not effective. I could sense that there was a better way. I saw too much inefficiency and waste, conflict, and confusion. I could feel in my heart that our humanness was not a weakness but rather the key to a better return on human capital.
In early 1998, my good friend John Kelley introduced me to a book, "Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership," by Joseph Jaworski, that started me on a course of study that has changed my life and my opinion about core leadership principles . I knew I was now on a mission to make a difference in my little corner of the world - at least as a start.
My introduction to the book occurred when Kelley and I were on a long business flight in early 1998. He had just finished "Synchronicity" and passed it along to me with a passionate recommendation. I put down my own reading and perused the table of contents and the introduction to get the general picture of the subject.
Within minutes I came across the following passage:
"Leadership is about creating a domain in which human beings continually deepen their understanding of reality and become more capable of participating in the unfolding of the world. Ultimately leadership is about creating new realities." 
When I read this quote I knew I was on to something. This paragraph resonated with me so soundly that it literally shook me at my very core. These two sentences helped me put words and a vision around what I was feeling about leadership, human relationships, individual accountability, and sharing in the creation of the future.
An Untapped Resource
My thinking began to crystallize a bit more over the next year. I spent some time with Dr. Anthony Ipsaro, a recognized expert in organizational behavior, who has had great success in creating increased productivity in the workplace.
Together we began to explore topics surrounding the barriers that block people from bringing their "whole self" to the workplace. What we discovered was that corporate policies, procedures, prejudices, and those "unwritten rules" we have all heard so much about prevent all of us from bringing all that we are to the corporate table.
I saw that there was something off beam when the things that matter most to people are not appreciated in the workplace. What does that say about my values and me? Sure, sometimes companies try to say the right things. We see corporate goals and mission statements that include words about valuing people and that people are our greatest asset. Nevertheless, when it comes to matching actions with words, companies usually are left wanting.
The immense value of tapping into the individual's vast variety of talents, skills, and experiences was beginning to become clear to me. With Dr. Ipsaro's help I was visualizing the opportunities that were being lost by not allowing people to bring their whole selves to work.
During this period I engaged a training company, Quma Learning, with some unique thinking in the area of human productivity. Quma advocates that the unconscious mind is another great-untapped resource. In sum, the concept of bringing the whole person to the table applied not only to the skills, talents, and vast life experiences of the individual, but to the individual's whole mind as well.
An improved personal leadership vision was beginning to take shape within me. I knew the vision must include creating a setting in which people can flourish, not just an atmosphere where the company prospers. I would learn later that one really couldn't thrive without the other.
This vision must make provision for the tapping of the more creative unconscious mind as well. Dr. Dennis Deaton, Chairman of the Board of Quma Learning, makes a startling revelation in his book, "The Book on Mind Management".
"We think, and with those thoughts, we create. We create the world we live in. It goes beyond influencing, shaping or guiding. You and I, in very literal terms, determine what we experience and what we enact into the world. We harvest in life, only and exactly, what we sow in our minds."
We know the mind is a powerful thing. But, having said that, scientists state that we use only about ten percent of our brain's capability in a lifetime. I knew within me that the ninety percent was the key to greater achievement.
It was time to view employees as more holistic, multi-faceted partners in the creation of enterprise. In my mind the old style command and control management was dead forever.
I was excited about the journey so far. Several great and significant concepts were resonating within me in powerful ways. Now it was time to unearth the science behind all of this.
The Science of Leadership
It was during this course of study that I happened upon a business acquaintance of mine, Ron Hubert, from the consulting firm of Deloitte and Touche. My path had crossed Hubert's a year earlier when he and his colleagues were doing some corporate strategy work for me. Hubert introduced me to several electrifying new theories: complexity, chaos, and the quantum.
Hubert asked me to read some books. The first round of reading included Margaret Wheatley's "Leadership and the New Science," Dana Zohar's "ReWiring the Corporate Brain," and Michael McMaster's "The Intelligence Advantage" (out of print, ISBN: 075069792X). Reading them was truly a gripping experience. I was now hooked on the science of nature and organizations, and I have never looked back.
In her book, Wheatley says, "Each of us lives and works in organizations designed from Newtonian images of the universe. But the science has changed. If we are to continue to draw from the sciences to create and manage organizations, then we need to at least ground our work in the science of our times. We need to stop seeking after the universe of the Seventeenth Century and begin to explore what became known to us in the Twentieth Century." 
What Wheatley is saying is that the science of Sir Isaac Newton was a science of the machine. Newton supposed that the universe operates like a machine. Each part and component, such as planets, organisms, and microscopic elements, are part of one great machine. If one part fails you simply fix or replace it with little or no lasting impact to the system as a whole. In other words, there is no connection within and between nature and her elements.
Newton essentially says that all the bodies of the universe are analogous to "tinker toy" creations suspended in an otherwise empty universe. The new science, the science of the quantum, says otherwise. 
Quantum theory at its essence says that our make-up is of a more connected nature. There are fields of energy flooding the entire universe. These fields, as Wheatley says, are responsible for "action-at-a-distance."  Scientists now believe that these fields of energy contain all the information that has ever existed, exists now, or will ever exist in the future. This data is available and influences our lives daily. We are virtually "always online" to God, nature, and the universe.
At the sub-atomic level of the universe, and, therefore, at the very core of human make-up, the physical nature of the universe is a dance of energy. We are made up of the same light and energy as the electro-magnetic fields that permeate space and all of creation. Therefore, it stands to reason that, as a part of this celestial dance, we can have access to nature's wealth of information, and we can be influenced by it. So, the question is, if we can be influenced by this vast database of energy and knowledge, can we tap into this cosmic database and perhaps even influence it as well?
A New Vision Taking Shape
So what does nature, the cosmos and the untapped capabilities of people mean to our organizational vision? It means that our vision now must include some of these doctrines:
- The whole really is greater than the sum of the parts.
- Human dialogue is critical to creativity. When two ideas come together that never met before, they lead to or create a new third idea. 
- As we are all connected to the "cosmic database," it stands to reason that we must organize in a fashion that allows us to tap into this vast array of data.
- Equilibrium is death to the quantum organization. Think about it: if human interaction and dialogue are critical fuel to the new organization, a little creative chaos will continue to drive human creativity.
- Complex systems are best managed from the bottom up. Today's top-down command and control management styles are complicated, inefficient, and problematic.
- We must manage to recognize the tremendous individual human potential in the workplace. There must be a place at the corporate table for all employees, regardless of physical characteristics or role or position in the corporate hierarchy.
Our leadership vision is now beginning to take some genuine shape:
Our leadership mission is to create a setting in which human beings can flourish and are valued and recognized as the key to success. We will view employees as holistic versatile partners in the creation of enterprise.
We will tap into the vast creative resources of the human mind in order to create our future. We will use pictures and sensory rich descriptions of our goals to mine the immense capabilities of the subconscious mind.
We will engage in dialogue with one another. We will recognize that we are all connected with nature, and we will learn to tap into that enormous cosmic database of knowledge. We will organize ourselves to take advantage of our connectedness. We will use self-forming teams to ensure that the best-qualified professionals are applied to the problems at hand.
We know that maintaining equilibrium in our lives and in enterprise stifles creativity. We will create a setting in which people are constantly in a state of transformation and where we are always stretching the creative capabilities of people. We will establish a set of fundamental principles for each of our complex systems. We will manage our systems by focusing on our fundamental principles.
I believe this mission statement, while probably not without its faults, gets at the core fundamentals of nature's true leadership.
And now, finally, as we pry below the surface of the image of our leadership method, we are not disenchanted with our art. Rather, we are delighted at the beauty and the majesty of the finely tuned springs and mechanisms that we see when we put this new form into motion. And, out of the corner of our eye, briefly, we can imagine we glimpse the hand of God, the architect of it all.
It was now time to put what I had learned into practice...
1. Currently, John Kelley is the President and COO of McData Corporation in Denver, Colorado.
2. Joseph Jaworski, "Synchronicity: the Inner Path of Leadership" - Introduction.
3. Sir Isaac Newton.
4. For further discussion on quantum theory, I recommend either Zukov's "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" or Gribbin's "In Search of Schrodinger's Cat."
5. Action-at-a-distance is a phenomenon that describes synchronized actions between human beings or elements that are some distance apart with no apparent mechanism for communication.
6. See David Bohm's book, "On Dialogue," for further discussion.