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What If We Took Business Inspiration From Quantum Physics?

Charlotte Ashlock Posted by Charlotte Ashlock, Executive Editor, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

Charlotte Ashlock is a crazy idealist trying to make the world a better place! 


What If We Took Business Inspiration From Quantum Physics?

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Wisdom from The Art of Quantum Planning: Lessons from Quantum Physics for Breakthrough Strategy, Innovation, and Leadership , by Gerald Harris Sourced from

Chapter 9: Organizations as Energy Systems

Back in the days of Newtonian Physics, people believed in a clockwork universe. In other words, they believed every aspect of the universe, right down to living beings, was part of a giant, predictable machine. The discoveries of quantum physics debunked this entirely. Science now shows the universe is complex, uncertain, and governed by flows of energy.

Make sure you aren’t practicing clockwork thinking in a quantum world. Otherwise, your leadership won’t be as good as it could be. Here are some ways your leadership can improve when you realize your organization is an energy system.

1. Make the Energy Flow! Gerald Harris writes, “Everything in the universe is composed of energy. The frequency or vibration level of the energy makes a difference in the form a particular thing takes….. I see a business or organization as an energy system designed to meet human needs and desires.” Your organization is more like a living organism than like a machine, so focus on getting the positive energy flowing through those veins! The best process or procedure in the world won’t help if employees aren’t feeling that energy of optimism and excellence.

2. Ask Yourself Energy Questions. Gerald Harris urges us to look “beyond the balance sheet, the hard assets, the buildings and the equipment.” He wants us to ask, “What is causing all of this to be energized and used by people to create something of value?” In business physics, the moving particles are ideas. Are you in touch with the ideas moving through your organization?

3. What is the E = mc squared for your business? Here is the E = mc squared equation that Gerald Harris writes for Trader Joe’s. Use it as inspiration to write the E = mc squared for your own business.

  • Energy is defined as: sales, profits, brand identity, and customer loyalty
  • Mass is defined as: stores, inventory, location, employees, and systems
  • C squared: In the business world, what is the speed of light squared? The blinding flash of light comes from: Your Ideas x The Values Your Customers Hold. For Trader Joe’s their idea is convenient access to organic, healthy, and gourmet foods. Their customers value health and quality. When you multiply these two things together, you get something amazing.

4. Know what makes your organizations’ energy levels fall and rise. Gerald Harris writes, “The level of energy can rise and fall and effect the state of your organization…. Easing access for customers to get the values they want from your company’s offerings will increase your organization’s energy level.” He goes on to say, “What saddens me is that the people who are in charge…. have lost touch with what energizes the company….. I can imagine some of the reasons. People often see their jobs in political terms (“My job is to keep person X happy or to protect person X’s interests”). Sometimes people have been doing their jobs for so long and in such a routine fashion….” So, avoid falling into that rut. Think in a way which incites that creative spark within your organization.

5. The Reward of Quantum Planning What does an organization with a great energy system FEEL like? You can probably think of several, even if you have trouble defining it in concrete terms. Harris says, “I feel something positive when I walk into a well-functioning organization of any kind. There is a great pizza restaurant in my neighborhood; it has been there over 20 years. When I walk into the place, it is generally busy if not crowded. There is a smile on nearly everyone’s face, especially the counter service people. They are happy to see me and I am happy to see them. The aromas of the ingredients radiate and penetrate my senses, making my mouth water. I feel relaxed sitting at the counter or waiting in line chatting with other patrons. I literally feel energized in the place. It has a little bit of magic and good energy. Often what I experience in companies and organizations is that they have lost what this little pizza place has in volumes-energy."

Energy!