Entrepreneurship in the Quantum Age: A New Set of Skills to Enhance Organizational Development
Shelton, Charlotte K., Darling, John R., Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal
The 21st century could be called The Quantum Age. Computers, the internet, bar code readers and laser surgery represent only a few of the practical outcomes of a theory of physics called quantum mechanics. In this article, quantum theory is used as the foundation of a new paradigm that can increase the effectiveness of entrepreneurial leaders. The traditional management skills of planning, organizing, directing, and controlling are simply inadequate for leading in The Quantum Age. These traditional skills were, in fact, derived from classical, seventeenth-century Newtonian physics; therefore, it is reasonable to use the principles of quantum physics to identify a more contemporary skill set. The seven Quantum Skills overviewed in this article are not only derived from state-of-the-art science, they are also congruent with timeless, universal spiritual principles. These skills are premised on the belief that human organizations are fundamentally unpredictable living systems rather than stable, machine-like entities. Mastering these Quantum Skills will enable entrepreneurs to improve their ability to innovatively lead their organizations in the fast-paced, often chaotic, world of the 21st century.
An entrepreneur is an innovator or developer who recognizes and seizes opportunities; converts those opportunities into workable and marketable ideas; adds value through time, effort, money, or skills; assumes the risks of the competitive marketplace to implement those ideas; and realizes the rewards from those efforts (Kuratko & Hodgetts, 1995, 4). A major challenge is that in order to achieve these purposes, the entrepreneur must typically do so through others functioning in an organizational setting. Skills for successful leadership therefore become of major importance to the achievement of meaningful objectives in entrepreneurship.
The modern era encompasses a period that technologically could be called The Quantum Age. Computers, the internet, bar code readers and laser surgery represent only a few of the new and innovative outcomes of a theory of physics called quantum mechanics. This term was introduced early in the 20th century to describe the physics of the subatomic realm. The subatomic realm refers to everything in the physical world that is smaller than an atom. The word quantum literally means "a quantity of something;" mechanics refers to "the study of motion." Quantum mechanics is, therefore, the study of subatomic particles in motion (Shelton, Quantum Leaps, 1999, 1-4). However, subatomic particles are not material things; rather, they are probability tendencies--energy with potentiality.
Subatomic particles interact across time and space in unknown and unpredictable ways. This does not mean that the movements of these particles are totally random, but it does mean that they are not brought about by any discernible cause. Due to this phenomenon, until recently quantum concepts have not been applied to human behavior. This perspective and tendency is, however, shifting. Recent research in psychology, biology, and neurophysiology suggests that human beings are, indeed, quantum beings. Even though a person may be viewed primarily as a material being, there is also an invisible, nonmaterial dimension (mind, consciousness or spirit) whose functioning appears to be affected by quantum principles (Dyer, 1995, 1-2).
In this article, quantum theory is used as a new way of thinking about entrepreneurial behavior and, more specifically, as the foundation for a new paradigm that can appreciably impact the effectiveness of entrepreneurial leadership in an organization. The traditional beliefs about leadership, and the nature of organizational workplaces, have been limited by a mechanistic, deterministic, and reductionistic point of view. However, contemporary thought about entrepreneurial leadership necessitates new models and new skills--skills that are more appropriate for meeting the complexities of The Quantum Age--skills that will enable entrepreneurs to function more effectively in a world that is changing at warp speed.
To be successful today, entrepreneurs must develop and nurture new expansive leadership skills--skills that are congruent with the perspective of organizations as human-based systems that are fundamentally unpredictable, interactive, living systems, rather than stable, machine-like operations. Since organizational planning, organizing, directing and controlling are derivatives of classical Newtonian physics, perhaps the principles of quantum physics can suggest an updated set of skills--a set that also brings into focus leadership-related qualities that are necessary for success in today's world of business. The basic principles of quantum mechanics provide meaningful insights into an organizational world that is both objective and subjective, logical and irrational, linear and nonlinear, orderly and chaotic; a world in which the process of human observation somehow affects that which is observed (Shelton, Perspectives, 1999, 71-72). In short, the principles of quantum mechanics challenge entrepreneurs to turn their view of reality upside down and inside out, and acknowledge that there is much more to effective leadership than has been considered in the past.
QUANTUM SKILLS MODEL
The purpose of this article is to examine quantum concepts (adapted from Shelton, Quantum Leaps, 1999) as a new foundation for entrepreneurial leadership--a foundation that provides a new interactive model of skills and paradigm of thinking to enhance effectiveness. These skills are referred to as Quantum Skills because they are premised on the assumption that the quantum realm of energy is of primary importance and thereby causal to everything else in the universe, and the material aspects of this universe are consequently of secondary importance. The skills are seven in nature. (1) Quantum Seeing: The ability to see intentionally. (2) Quantum Thinking: The ability to think paradoxically. (3) Quantum Feeling: The ability to feel vitally alive. (4) Quantum Knowing: The ability to know intuitively. (5) Quantum Acting: The ability to act responsibly. (6) Quantum Trusting: The ability to trust life's process. And (7) Quantum Being: The ability to be in relationship. See Figure 1.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
The Quantum Skills Model shown in Figure 1 reflects the interrelationships among these seven skills. The three skills represented on the inverted triangle--Quantum Seeing, Quantum Thinking and Quantum Feeling--are primarily psychological in nature. They are premised on three widely accepted psychological principles: (1) Human perception is highly subjective (Quantum Seeing); (2) Creative thinking requires the development of the right hemisphere of the brain (Quantum Thinking); and (3) Human feelings are not the result of external events but of internal self talk (Quantum Feeling).
Understanding these basic psychological constructs helps entrepreneurs to create more intentionally and more creatively, but these three skills alone do not necessarily give entrepreneurs a deep sense of meaning and fulfillment. In order to bring more spirit into leadership roles, additional skills are needed by entrepreneurs--skills that shift the focus from narrow self-interest and ego-involvement to concern for the good of the whole. The model labels these skills as spiritual skills (Shelton, Quantum Leaps, 7). They are grounded in three universal spiritual principles: (1) We live in an intelligent universe (Quantum Knowing); (2) Everything in the universe is interrelated (Quantum Acting); and (3) The universe uses chaos to create order (Quantum Trusting). These three spiritual skills are shown on the model's upright triangle. The seventh skill, Quantum Being, is intricately connected to each of the other Quantum Skills. Its central position in the model reflects this connection, and therefore the focal point in the overall Quantum Skills Model.
These Quantum Skills are ancient and futuristic, scientific and spiritual, simple and difficult, common and uncommon, obvious and not quite so obvious. They help entrepreneurs enhance their effectiveness in the Quantum Age, but they originated in the wisdom of ages past and recorded in the writings of scholars in virtually every generation. Many of civilization's ancient spiritual practices, as well as many state-of-the-art psychological theories of today, are based on concepts that are similar to the quantum mechanical principles from which these skills are derived. These quantum mechanical principles thus become an important focus as well as foundation upon which the Quantum Skills Model is based as a key to successful entrepreneurial leadership and enhancement of organizational development.
PSYCHOLOGICAL QUANTUM SKILLS
The first skill, Quantum Seeing, is based on the leadership premise that entrepreneurs function and make decisions within the context of a subjective organizational environment. Both quantum theory and contemporary research in human perception suggest that over eighty percent of what is seen in the external world is a function of internal assumptions and beliefs. Yet entrepreneurs, for the most part, continue to manage themselves and their organizations with little regard for the subjectivity of external reality. Reality, or at least the individual experience thereof, is directly related to those things that individuals think about (Dyer, 1997, 55-57). Zukav (1979, 310) summed it up this way:
Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends upon what we look for. What we look for depends on what we think. What we think depends on what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality.
Hence, the beliefs of entrepreneurs reinforce their perceptions and their perceptions reinforce their beliefs. Consequently, they often function in a paradigm that is based on a continuous cycle of repetitiveness, seeing the world as they have always seen it and making their decisions within a relatively narrow band of possibilities, not because opportunities are limited, but because perceptions always are. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to change perceptions. These are learned early and they are controlled primarily at an unconscious level of awareness. However, entrepreneurs can learn to become more aware of their intentions, and as they learn to change these intentions, their perceptions shift accordingly and leadership is enhanced.
Csikszentmihalyi (1990, 27) believes that intention is the psychological process with which reality is constructed. Intentions cause entrepreneurs to pay attention to certain stimuli while totally ignoring a plethora of other perceptual possibilities. The skill of Quantum Seeing enables entrepreneurs to consciously select their intentions, thus aligning their perceptions with their desires. General Electric's chairman and widely-recognized entrepreneur, Jack Welch, understands the concept of Quantum Seeing (Shelton, Quantum Leaps, 30). Welch has noted GE's progress in using three principles that he called stretch, speed, and boundarylessness. Welch said that GE is using these principles to build a workforce with an "absolutely infinite capacity to improve everything." Essentially these principles mean using dreams to set business targets--with no real idea of how to achieve these dreams.
Welch believes that all entrepreneurs, and individuals within their organizations, have the capacity to experience Quantum Seeing on a daily basis. The primary requirement is clarity of vision. "We can't create what we can't imagine. How big can you dream?," Welch has asked. At the organizational level, this skill is a reminder of the need to have all stakeholders involved in visioning and planning processes (Nasi, 1995, 21-24). If employees are not involved, they are likely to be perceptually incapable of seeing and, hence, of creating new possibilities. Instead, they remain committed to their current mindsets, unable to make the perceptual choices required for successful execution and dream fulfillment.
The second skill, Quantum Thinking, is derived from quantum physics research which suggests that the universe functions in illogical, paradoxical ways. The most obvious quantum paradox is that the visible, three-dimensional world, is composed solely of invisible energy. Furthermore, this energy often makes sudden, totally unpredictable quantum leaps, tunneling through barriers in ways that are both illogical and impossible at the macro level of reality. Quantum tunneling is totally illogical; yet because of the highly illogical quantum tunneling effect, physicians can now identify minute abnormalities within the human brain. Illogical processes can therefore result in highly practical applications.
Unfortunately, within their organizations many entrepreneurs still rely primarily on logical, linear, black and white thinking skills. However, there are exceptions. Jack Stack, entrepreneur and President of the much-publicized Springfield Remanufacturing Company, is a Quantum Thinker. He inspires his co-workers to rise above simplistic binary, either-or solutions, and create highly innovative solutions to tough organizational challenges. On one occasion, operations were shut down when truckers went on strike and no steel was being delivered to the plant in Chicago. Stack called his people together and asked them if they had any ideas about how they could get steel into the plant without being shot at by snipers. Someone suggested the use of school buses, and another suggested a nun's habit for the drivers. The problem was solved! School buses, driven by "nuns" brought the badly needed materials to the plant. Stack has commented: "We are always doing crazy stuff like that to keep the lines running. Nothing stops us. We come up with the most outrageous things you ever heard of, and they usually work" (Stack, 1992, 28).
If entrepreneurs are to think "outside of the box," it is apparent that logical, rational, binary thought processes are inadequate. Logical thinking has made little headway in solving the enormous challenges facing business organizations today. After all, many organizational issues are paradoxical, and pose questions that cannot be answered by rational, binary thinking. For example, how can entrepreneurs balance the responsibility to stockholders with responsibility to employees, customers, and the environment? The ability to think paradoxically will no doubt be a key to creating highly innovative solutions to questions like this and addressing a myriad of other organizational challenges in the future (Nasi, 1995, 20-21).
In order to think paradoxically, entrepreneurs must develop, within themselves and others in their organizations, the capacities of the right hemisphere of the brain--the side of the brain that thinks in images not words and is, therefore, not bound by verbal language and logic. The right brain can gather up seemingly unrelated ideas and arrange them into highly creative idea constellations, thereby bypassing the left brain's propensity for binary thinking. The right brain has another important creative advantage. It can process millions of visual images in microseconds, and solve problems exponentially faster than the clock-bound left hemisphere. Each time an entrepreneur chooses to visualize versus think in words, he/she literally disconnects from the linear passage of time. Thus, through the process of imagistic thinking the entrepreneur can escape the tyranny of time and enter a realm where seemingly opposite options can effortlessly superimpose themselves into highly creative solutions. The skill of Quantum Thinking provides an on-going stream of highly innovative, often illogical ideas that help the entrepreneur transcend the box of binary thinking. The ability of an organization to thrive, and perhaps even survive, demands that this skill be recognized and developed.
The third skill, Quantum Feeling, is based on the premise that human beings are composed of the same energy as the rest of the universe and are, therefore, subject to universal laws of energy excitation. Research at the Institute of HeartMath (IHM Research Update, 1993, 3) suggests that the human heart is a primary source of power for the mind-body system. The heart generates the strongest electromagnetic signal in the human body and the power of that signal is primarily a function of thoughts and emotions. Positive emotions (e.g., love, caring, compassion, hope, joy and appreciation) increase coherence, thus increasing energy. Negative emotions (e.g. frustration, fear, anger, conflict, and stress) decrease coherence in the heart's electromagnetic waves, causing the mind-body system to lose energy.
This research confirms what many individuals already know intuitively. Positive emotions energize and negative emotions exhaust. Knowing this to be true does not, however, solve the pervasive epidemic of stress, conflict and burnout that is common throughout the business world today (Nurmi & Darling, 1997, 157-165). Fast-paced schedules drain one's energy. Stress-filled jobs exhaust people. Interpersonal differences create conflict. Individuals desire health and vitality; but, too often experience tiredness and disease. The skill of Quantum Feeling enables the entrepreneur to feel good internally, regardless of what happens externally. As this skill is recognized and implemented, the entrepreneur learns how to change the physics of his/her body by changing the feelings of the heart (Dyer, 1998, 211-213). The entrepreneur thereby becomes increasingly aware of the perceptual choice point between an external stimulus and a subsequent internal response; and begins to recognize that one's energy is never depleted by other people or events, but rather by one's perceptual choices and reactions thereto.
The Institute of HeartMath research also suggests that today's entrepreneur can maintain higher levels of energy and vitality simply by choosing to focus on the positive aspects of his/her experiences (Childre, 1996, 70). Focusing on the positive aspects, the heart's electromagnetic waves become coherent and the brain's waves spontaneously follow (physicists call this entrainment). From this more coherent state of mind, one sees opportunities that would have been missed had the individual remained in a state of negativity. The opportunities would have been there all along; but the person's emotionally-induced cognitive incoherence simply made them perceptually unavailable. Herb Kelleher, well-known entrepreneur and CEO of Southwest Airlines, is a Quantum Feeler of the first order. In an industry plagued with passenger discontent and labor troubles, Southwest Airlines has turned a profit every year for the past 28 years. It also has never laid off anyone and, under Kelleher's entrepreneurial leadership, has become an icon of offbeat customer service. For example, its flight attendants sometimes sing the flight safety instructions. Nurturing the entrepreneurial "Southwest spirit" is a key to Kelleher's implementation of Quantum Feeling (Business Week, January 8, 2001, 73).
When entrepreneurs nurture and develop a high-energy Quantum Feeling paradigm, organizational change programs will make a much greater difference in productivity and job satisfaction. Organizational redesign efforts and empowerment processes are necessary but not sufficient. Without an internal shift in consciousness and a new set of emotional choice skills, entrepreneurs keep following the old patterns in their organizations--committed to the old paradigms--regardless of the new opportunities available to them. The skill of Quantum Feeling enables entrepreneurial leaders to change the constructs of their minds. This skill will have an enormous impact on issues such as motivation, burnout, stress, and job satisfaction. Organizational life will change significantly when individuals, and particularly those in entrepreneurial roles, release their collective dependence on external rewards and take full personal responsibility for bringing purpose, passion and vitality to their organizations.
SPIRITUAL QUANTUM SKILLS
The fourth skill, Quantum Knowing, is derived from quantum field theory. Energy fields are, in the language of physics, the ground state of all that is. Einstein once commented that: "fields are the only reality" (Capra, 1983, 211). The universe is not filled with energy fields; rather, the universe emerges out of an underlying quantum field. This underlying sea of potential appears to be infinite, omnipresent, and omnipotent. It is both indescribable and incalculable. The quantum field is believed to contain Bose-Einstein condensates which are the most highly ordered and highly unified structure yet found in the universe. Zohar (1990, 226) is one of a growing number of physicists who believes that Bose-Einstein processes in the brain may create the neurological structures that are prerequisite to human consciousness. If subsequent research validates a relationship between Bose-Einstein condensates and consciousness, it will lend support to the hypothesis that the quantum field itself is conscious. Consciousness, therefore, may not be a function of evolutionary sophistication, but instead may be the primary substance of physical reality.
The universe is basically a set of signals or a field of information. It is much more like a Great Thought than the Great Machine metaphor of the Newtonian paradigm. Quantum Knowing is the ability to connect in non-sensory ways with information in this quantum field of potentiality. William James used the term "radical empiricism" to describe the process of direct knowing--knowing beyond sensory input (Taylor, 1994, 353). In this superconnective state, an individual's ability to access previously unknown information increases appreciably. The entrepreneur thereby discovers a capacity for wisdom that may be infinite. He/she becomes one with the quantum field. It is difficult, yet intriguing, to imagine an organization with an entrepreneurial leader who knows how to intuitively access the cosmic database. Research suggests that many entrepreneurs do acknowledge a strong reliance on intuition, but few make their intuitive abilities public and even fewer attempt to propagate and integrate intuitive knowing into daily organizational development activities and practices. However, the overwhelming amount of available data mandates that entrepreneurs explore and experiment with new ways of knowing. There is simply too much information to process in traditional, analytical ways.
Langer (McCarthy, 1994, 28) has developed a theory of mindful decision-making. Langer's research suggests that gathering information does not necessarily lead to better decisions. In fact, organizations are typically focused on an impossible goal--reducing uncertainty through data collection. This is futile because even the amount of information that could be gathered about the simplest of decisions, such as developing a new product or selecting a supplier, can involve limitless research. Rather than focusing on gathering information, Langer's theory focuses on staying aware (mindfulness). She points out that a belief in certainty is actually a huge disadvantage in entrepreneurial leadership. Certainty leads to mindlessness. When one is certain, he/she typically ceases to pay attention. On the other hand, uncertainty keeps individuals attentive both to the external conditions and to one's internal intuitions. Mindfulness keeps the entrepreneur's connection to the quantum field of infinite information open.
Since taking over as CEO of Hewlett-Packard early in 1999, Carleton (Carly) Fiorina has pushed the company to the limit to recapture the form that made it a management icon for six decades, and doing so with a Quantum Knowing paradigm. The stakes couldn't be higher--both for Fiorina and for the Silicon Valley pioneer started in a Palo Alto garage in 1938. Just as founders Bill Hewlett and David Packard broke the mold back then by eliminating hierarchies and introducing breakthrough innovations in operations and products, Fiorina is betting on organizational innovations so radical that experts say they have never been tried before at a company of HP's size and complexity. She is transforming all aspects of HP at once--strategy, culture, compensation--everything from how to spark innovation to how to streamline internal processes (Business Week, February 19, 2001, 71-73). In doing so, she is accessing not only rational analysis, but also an intuitive process, Quantum Knowing.
As entrepreneurial leaders begin to incorporate the space for mindfulness into their daily work routines, they will nurture whole-brain organizations--organizations that fully utilize both sides of the brain, valuing intuitive knowing as much as rational analysis. Someday entrepreneurs will look back at concepts such as empowerment or open book management with amusement. After all, how can one person empower another if everyone has access to the same cosmic database? As more and more entrepreneurs learn to use the skill of Quantum Knowing, they will help create true learning organizations--organizations in which all the stakeholders deeply value learning from the inside out, thereby recognizing the importance of intuitive ideas.
The fifth skill, Quantum Acting, is premised on the quantum mechanical concept of interconnectivity and its byproduct, non-local causation. At the subatomic level, two systems once connected remain connected, even across great distances of time and space. Any change of one of these systems affects the second system instantaneously. These complex "from a distance" interactions are explained by a uniquely quantum principle, the principle of non-separability, which violates the most basic principle of relatively, that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
Even though Einstein never accepted the principle of non-separability, today this principle is a fundamental concept in quantum theory. Its technological applications will soon create quantum computers in which all the components respond instantaneously to a change in the state of one component. The potential capacity of quantum computers is truly significant. They will be capable of performing all possible computations simultaneously (quantum parallelism). Strings of hydrogen atoms will hold bits of information rather than arrays of transistors. Atomic encoding will enable a quantum computer to simulate the behavior of any quantum system using quantum processes such as superimposition and non-local correlation. According to a recent Scientific American article, "a 40-bit quantum computer could recreate in little more than, say 100 steps, a quantum system that would take a classical computer, having a trillion bits, years to simulate" (Lloyd, 1995, 144). Action at a distance (non-local causation) is about to transform life as it is presently known through astounding technological advances; but more importantly, this same principle has the potential to shift an entrepreneur's view of him/herself, and relationships to other individuals and to the universe.
Everything in the universe is a part of a correlated, complex whole in which each part influences and is influenced by every other part. Quantum Acting is the ability to act with concern for the whole--the whole self, the whole organization, the whole society, and the whole planet. This skill can be used to design lives of impeccable action--lives that focus on intentions that are good for both self and for the larger system. Using the skill of Quantum Acting leads the entrepreneur to decide to make responsible choices. Each responsible conscious choice that an entrepreneur makes not only influences the probability of future choices; it also, because of interpersonal quantum interconnectedness, affects the future choices of others as well. Thus, organizations and workplaces are designed one choice at a time. When entrepreneurial leaders choose acts of kindness, compassion, or integrity, they are, in the words of Zohar (1990, 184), "loading the quantum dice" and increasing the probability that others inside and outside of the organization will choose to act accordingly. Each individual self is in non-local correlation with every other self, and each decision influences the entire system. Entrepreneurs help to nurture win-win relationships when they lose their sense of us versus them and realize that we are all us (Dyer, 1995, 69).
Canon Inc.'s entrepreneurial chief executive, Ryuzaburo Kaku, is a well-known proponent of Quantum Acting or, as he calls it, "working together for the common good." In this regard, Kaku has found an audience with members of the Caux Round Table (CRT), a twice-yearly meeting in Switzerland of top business leaders from Europe, Japan, and the U.S. who are concerned about the global economy. CRT has recently adopted "working together for the common good" and the Western concept of "human dignity" as the two founding ethical ideals for the organization. Inside the Canon organization, examples of Quantum Acting range from the use of solar energy to the recycling of toner cartridges. The Canon organization is also deeply committed to human rights. Canon is the Japanese word for the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, and this organization is committed to treating employees, customers and its other stakeholders mercifully. Kaku strongly believes that this is not only the right way for business organizations to function; it is the most profitable way as well (Skelly, 1995, 31).
The quantum principle of non-separability puts a new perspective on social responsibility in decision-making. If everything in the universe is intricately interconnected, what a person does must in some way have a reverse affect on that individual, the doer. Therefore, if one wants prosperity in life or in an organization, that individual begins by giving and serving. This is based upon the principle that one's rewards come from the services he/she first gives (Waitley, 1995, 240-241). In a correlated universe, the more that is given, the more one receives. So-called socially responsible behaviors (e.g., treating all stakeholders respectfully or taking good care of environmental resources) are, in actuality, merely common sense. As entrepreneurs begin to use the skill of Quantum Acting, they, and the individuals with whom they are associated, discover that organizations can, indeed, do well while also doing good.
The sixth skill, Quantum Trusting, is derived from chaos theory. Chaos theory provides a new way of viewing change and the turbulence that accompanies it. This theory demonstrates that chaos is inherent in the evolutionary process. It is the catalyst that creates the disequilibrium necessary for system evolution. Chaos is the progenitor of all progress. Without the chaos, and commensurate conflict brought about by change, life stagnates and entropy ensues (Darling & Fogliasso, 1997, 1-2).
Prigogine discovered the positive role that chaos plays in the universe (Prigogine & Stengers, 1984, 13). He was the first to differentiate between active and passive chaos. Passive chaos occurs when a closed system reaches equilibrium and its elements move around in a random fashion. Active chaos occurs in an open system that is in a state of disequilibrium. In such a system, environmental feedback serves as a catalyst, disrupting the system and moving that system to higher levels of order and coherency. The system's new direction appears to be the result of chance and uncertainty. However, a growing number of scientists believe that an invisible ordering principle is at work. Bohm's concept of subatomic particles with "quantum potential" suggests that directions received from the primary order, the quantum field, influence an electron's behavior (Briggs & Peat, 1989, 183). Bohm acknowledges that this potential has such complexity that any attempts at prediction are futile. However, the inability to make predictions does not mean that a system's evolution is totally random. It simply means that it cannot be explained by scientific calculations.
Chaos theory, based on classical physics and applicable to the macroscopic world, has a similar concept, the strange attractor. This is a term used to trace the evolution of a chaotic system. As chaos theory would predict, a computerized system in chaos behaves in a totally unpredictable manner. However, over time even the most chaotic systems never go beyond certain phase space boundaries, the boundary of the strange attractor. Strange attractors provide visual images of a world in which structure emerges out of chaos. Structured chaos is a remarkable paradox. It suggests that entrepreneurs function in a universe that is both orderly and chaotic, a world that displays structure without clockwork regularity--potentiality without predictability. Wheatley and Kellner-Rogers (1996, 35) reflect on what this might mean for today's entrepreneurial leaders. They write: "If order is for free, we don't have to be the organizers. We don't have to design the world. We don't have to structure existence ... Organization wants to happen."
For many, these ideas are deeply appealing. Most entrepreneurs become exhausted from their attempts to predict and control. They suspect that there really is a simpler way. Yet, they continuously find themselves face-to-face with the ego's fears. Quantum Trusting is the ability to trust the natural process. This skill enables entrepreneurs to ride the rapids of change, fully participating in the adventure without having to control the course; deeply aware that it is easier to ride a raft in the direction it's headed. As an entrepreneur appropriately uses this skill, he/she begins to focus on the mystery of existence, rather than on mastery over it; becoming less intent on manipulating people and more intent on appreciating them. In other words, he/she helps to free the organization to spontaneously evolve without the excessive interference that is brought on when the entrepreneur's ego becomes unnecessarily involved.
The typical distrust and dislike of chaos is deeply rooted in individual and organizational psyches. This causes individuals to trade freedom for security and adventure for predictability. If the entrepreneur is to create what Dee Hock, the founder of VISA International, refers to as chaordic organizations, organizations that value both chaos and order, they must exorcise their internal demons of fear and dependence and learn to appreciate the creative aspects of chaos (Waldrop, 1996, 75).
Using the skill of Quantum Trusting is especially challenging in traditional organizations where enormous value is placed on prediction and control, and doing things the way they have always been done. There are, however, many new organizational processes like Owen's Open Space Technology (Owen, 1997, 32), which demonstrate in quantifiable ways the ability of a group of people to quickly self-organize in meaningful and productive ways. Not only are the outcomes of such processes impressive, participants almost always prefer this open design to more traditionally structured options.
Open Space Technology is only one example of what Hock would call a chaordic organization (Waldrop, 1996, 75). As entrepreneurs individually and collectively begin to use the skill of Quantum Trusting, many more examples of self-organizing practices will emerge. Championing these practices requires entrepreneurs to confront their own internal demons of dependency and control. It takes clear intention, strong commitment, and daily practice to take the road less traveled. Such individuals must be willing to step into the chaotic abyss.
FOCAL SKILL OF QUANTUM BEING
The final skill, Quantum Being, recognizes the relational nature within organizations. At the subatomic level, matter comes into being only through relationships. Subatomic particles are abstractions. Their properties are definable and observable only through their interactions with other particles. The probabilities associated with particles are probabilities of relationships. Physics has not, however, always been viewed as a science of relationships. Newton saw particles as distinct entities with rigid boundaries--billiard balls moved around by external forces (Zohar, 1990, 129). Newtonian objects can influence each other's external behavior, but they cannot change each other's internal characteristics. This is not what happens in a quantum relationship where two particles can actually merge together, sharing boundaries and identities, and thereby becoming a quantum system that is greater than the sum of the two individual parts.
Metaphorically, quantum relationships are prerequisite to human transformation. It is through relationships that one's potential is released. When a person approaches relationships with openness and vulnerability, a new entity is created that is greater than the sum of the two individuals. As individuals experience the perceptual transformations that are inherent in quantum relationships, they begin to understand that their outer realities are but a projection of their inner beliefs. As Emerson noted: "The ancestor to every action is a thought" (Dyer, 1995, 299-300). Quantum relationships are, therefore, psychological mirrors. In them, individuals can see themselves reflected. When faults are observed in another, those observations are often simply mirroring the individual's own faults, providing feedback about unhealed areas of his/her own psyche.
Quantum Being is the ability to be in relationship--a relationship based on unconditional positive regard. This skill enables an entrepreneur to own his/her feelings rather than project them onto others. As this is done, the entrepreneur discovers that all relationships are extraordinary learning opportunities, and that none of them occur without reason. The successful entrepreneur also discovers that those who have the most to teach him/her are not always the most favored people, but they are the most valuable contributors to his/her psychological and spiritual well-being and, hence, organizational effectiveness.
Ricardo Semler, entrepreneurial CEO of the Semco Corp. in Sao Paulo, Brazil, models the skill of Quantum Being (Shelton, Quantum Leaps, 157-158). His decision to transform Semco from a traditional, hierarchical, adversarial culture to a participative environment based on trust and cooperation has also changed the foundation of many Sao Paulo families--and perhaps even the whole Brazilian society. Hierarchy and patriarchy have been seriously eroded because of one man's commitment to relationships. Semler describes the Semco culture as "extreme common sense." People practices include factory-floor flextime, self-set salaries, and a rotating CEO-ship. These changes have resulted in profound loyalty, excellent product and organizational quality, and improved sales and profits.
If entrepreneurs are to fully integrate the skill of Quantum Being into their organizations, they must turn their organizational priorities upside down, creating the time and space for dialogue, trusting that improved relationships will translate into improved results. In so doing, they will discover that progress is a byproduct of partnership and they will put away their outdated paradigms and become authentic change masters, changing themselves and their organizations from the inside.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The purpose of this article is to introduce quantum theory to the realm of entrepreneurial leadership. Quantum theory is a perspective that is based on quantum mechanics and derived from the scientific field of physics. The quantum paradigm presented is used as a metaphor for behavior and provides a new set of skills that can have an appreciable impact on effectiveness in entrepreneurship. These quantum concepts can thereby be translated into a highly practical new skill set for entrepreneurial leaders today.
These skills are referred to as Quantum Skills because they are premised on the assumption that the quantum realm of energy is of primary importance and thereby causal to everything else in the universe. These Quantum Skills are (1) Quantum Seeing: The ability to see intentionally. (2) Quantum Thinking: The ability to think paradoxically. (3) Quantum Feeling: The ability to feel vitally alive. (4) Quantum Knowing: The ability to know intuitively. (5) Quantum Acting: The ability to act responsibly. (6) Quantum Trusting: The ability to trust life's process. And (7) Quantum Being: The ability to be in relationship.
As entrepreneurs in the current era of organizational dynamics attempt to effectively fulfill their leadership role, as well as their management role, a new spirit must be borne within them. This spirit will take them beyond the world of mechanistic, reductionistic, deterministic principles and practices to a new skill set that is based on a paradigm that is more congruent with the complexities of The Quantum Age. The purpose of this article is to introduce the various dimensions of this new quantum paradigm and the commensurate skills that will result in greater effectiveness in entrepreneurial leadership and enhancement of organizational development. The authors welcome further inquiries and dialogue with interested entrepreneurship researchers and practitioners.
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Charlotte K. Shelton, Rockhurst University
John R. Darling, Rockhurst University…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Entrepreneurship in the Quantum Age: A New Set of Skills to Enhance Organizational Development. Contributors: Shelton, Charlotte K. - Author, Darling, John R. - Author. Journal title: Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal. Volume: 7. Issue: 1 Publication date: January 2001. Page number: 45+. © 2008 The DreamCatchers Group, LLC. COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group.
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