The Art Of Quantum Planning: Lessons from Quantum Physics for Breakthrough Strategy, Innovation, and Leadership by Gerald HarrisThe Art Of Quantum Planning: Lessons from Quantum Physics for Breakthrough Strategy, Innovation, and Leadership by Gerald Harris

The Art Of Quantum Planning: Lessons from Quantum Physics for Breakthrough Strategy, Innovation…

byGerald Harris

Paperback | August 2, 2009

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Stale ideas, conformity, and lack of imagination stymie strategic planning. Here, Gerald Harris uses seven concepts from quantum physics to pry open minds, eradicate unhealthy groupthink, spur creativity, and revitalize strategic planning.

Explaining quantum concepts in plain language and using real-world examples, Harris inspires innovation while providing practical guidance for applying these ideas in actual planning situations. Just as light has a dual nature—it can be a wave and a particle—so the needs and wants of a customer can be both discrete and continuous, or the market focus of an organization can be both targeted and many faceted. Likewise, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle—that we cannot know both the position and the speed of an electron—reminds us that it is impossible to be aware of every single relevant fact before we make a decision. Planning, he shows, must be a learning-forward process that continually adjusts to new information. Harris’s lessons act as triggers for inquiry, giving you an opportunity to discover more innovative and successful strategies.
Gerald Harris is president of Harris Planning and Strategy, where he assists organizations with high-quality business and strategic planning.
Title:The Art Of Quantum Planning: Lessons from Quantum Physics for Breakthrough Strategy, Innovation…Format:PaperbackDimensions:168 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.48 inPublished:August 2, 2009Publisher:Berrett-koehlerLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1605092657

ISBN - 13:9781605092652


Read from the Book

Planning, Thinking, and Learning 1 “Don’t squeeze the club too tightly. Don’t think about everything I told you; just play with it and swing. Let the feeling come to you.” These are some of the instructions given to me on how to swing a golf club. MY BOOKCASE HAS MANY GOOD BOOKS about business planning, strategy, and leadership. Many of them have served me well throughout my career as an executive and strategic planner both in a major corporation and as a management consultant. So what is it that would drive me to write another book on those subjects, and why should you take time to read it? The short answer is to address a failure that I have witnessed that has cost companies and organizations a great deal—the failure to think and plan in a more open, learning-oriented, and innovative manner. What’s Missing in Good Books on Strategic Planning? I have seen a tendency to get stuck in old patterns, unhealthy group-think, and narrow safe zones. Certainly it is not for a lack of trying to break those tendencies that this failure has occurred. What has been missing in efforts to break free is a set of clear and well-grounded tools that can be relied on to spur innovative thinking and keep minds open to continuous learning. What is needed is something that can serve as a relatively easy-to-use tool to help managers, planners, and their teams “get out of the box,” break through unhealthy or stale group-think, and reliably point to ways to give constructive challenges to what might be dangerous assumptions. This book is for people involved in planning the future of their organizations (from the top management down to individual contributors) who want sure-fire protection against narrow thinking and a quick, easy-to-use reference for some stimulating concepts to assure more innovative thinking. 2 Starting with my time at Pacific Gas and Electric Company as Director of Business Planning for the Engineering and Construction Unit, and throughout my fifteen years as a management consultant with Global Business Network, I have been involved with well over a hundred planning teams. I have led and participated in world-class planning, as well as some efforts that I thought were half-hearted. I have worked directly with CEOs and senior managers to help them develop key strategies for the future of their companies. In the best of those engagements, managers were dedicated to thinking and learning in an open way. I experienced a resistance to “locking down” and closing off ideas, and openness to contributions from a wide range of sources. I have not been able to “reverse-engineer” all of what I experienced, but I decided it would be useful to find some tools to generate the quality of thinking I was seeing. In my search I found the best ideas, surprisingly, in quantum physics! I will say more about this shortly. Here are the problems I want to solve for you in this book: You are about to start or lead, or are in the middle of, a strategic planning process for your organization and you want to guard against doing “the same old thing” and coming up with “in-the-box,” safe, and unchallenging results. You want to have a reliable checklist at hand to help yourself, or possibly your team, avoid any unhealthy groupthink that might emerge. You or your team have settled on your core facts, beliefs, stories, and related strategies, and there is little real innovation. You want a way to systematically and quickly revisit your results to generate more expansive thinking. You are using scenarios in strategic planning, but you want high-quality wild cards and more challenging and innovative stories that might lead to more innovative strategic thinking. 3 Those four problems are ones I have continually encountered in my career. What I have created here is a book that addresses those problems by interpreting seven core ideas from what scientists are learning about how the universe works and translating them into ideas that can spur innovative thinking for planners. This book is not for physicists or people who want to learn more about physics. (For the curious I include some references I have found useful.) It is for people who want to help their organizations grow and have better futures and who want great ideas to accomplish these goals in an innovative, strategic plan. My core belief about what makes for quality strategic planning is to have a learning-oriented approach. Planning is a way for an organization to learn its way forward and compete more effectively by making quality decisions. I believe this based on my own experience and also from the advice of experts in the field whom I have been fortunate enough to work with and become friends with (Don Michael, Peter Schwartz, Kees van der Heijden, and Arie de Gues among them). Good strategic planning occurs in cycles, in some cases annually, but more often in two- to three-year increments (because it takes time to implement and get feedback from strategies pursued and actions taken). The integration of what has been learned through past actions and the efficiency of that process is the core of quality strategic planning. 4 Learning is a thinking process, so the quality of thinking is central. This book presents tools for thinking differently and in a more open and innovative manner. As the quality of thinking increases in an organization through using the tools presented in this book, I believe that the quality of the results will improve as well. Leaders have a big role in the quality of thinking in their organizations. I see effective leaders as encouraging, creating an environment for friendly and rewarding high-quality thinking. I do not believe the role of a leader is to have all the good ideas and be the sole source of high-quality thinking. A single-person, star-based system of leadership cannot work in the complex business environments all organizations face today. I am advocating that leaders build organizational environments that encourage the use of the tools I set forth to generate higher quality thinking and innovative ideas. Chapter 1 provides more on my core ideas about good leadership and planning in organizations. Now, you may ask, why use ideas from quantum physics? In my experience, they work and fit well. I also have found the concepts relatively easy to understand, and they translate into truly usable tools to expand my thinking and keep me open to learning more. I can see their direct application to the kind of planning processes I have led. Quantum physics is based on understanding reality as an integrated and wonderfully interconnected system. I see the business environments that organizations face as integrated and wonderfully interconnected systems as well, so translating ideas from physics to the business environment just might prove fruitful. 5 Physics is a complex subject. It is the science of matter and motion. There are many branches within physics itself: for example, astrophysics, which deals with the physical properties of the universe and the movement of planets, stars, galaxies, and the like, andr particle physics, which deals with the smallest particles of matter. The most intelligent and studied physicists approach the subject with awe, respect, and a burning curiosity (a reading of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Albert Einstein makes this very clear.) As a field of study, physics is full of fantastic ideas (e.g., the Big Bang Theory). The discoveries from physics are a powerful influence in the history of man leading to the creation of some the most wonderful products we enjoy in the modern world (such as the computer I am currently using to write this book). The ideas from physics have also found resonance in philosophy; the interconnectedness of all things is both a physical and a philosophical notion. The step I am taking is akin to finding parallels in the ideas emerging from physics that relate to those of philosophy. I am using them for the more practical tasks of spurring ideas through which we can better create and manage organizations. I want them to serve as pathways for challenging assumptions, inspiring new perspectives, and encouraging more open and learning-oriented thinking and planning. I am not the first person to draw from the work of physicists to try to get some value for the world of business. The mathematics behind the Fischer Black–Myron Scholes models in the world of finance that have led to modeling of risks and share-price movements in modern financial markets is derived from heat-diffusion models from physics. I am willing to take the risk of not being as precise in my interpretation of the science as a trained physicist might required to reach for something that might be useful. To any physicists who happen upon this book (it is not for you) and beg to differ with my use of the ideas, my response will be, “Please tell me more.” 6 Playing with the ideas is a good place to start. This brings me to my golf lesson alluded to in the opening display quote. I want to draw from that the attitude I would like you to approach in using the ideas of this book—that is, one of play. Playing is learning by doing, and while doing, being forgiving of mistakes as part of the learning process. A mistake is not failure, but a tool for calibrating and trying again. Playing is an interactive process between doing and thinking, and one’s imagination. I invite you to hold the ideas in your head lightly, understand my suggestions on the “how to,” yet hold a space to learn by playing with the ideas and using your imagination. I think the twists and turns your brain may go through in pondering the ideas might best be captured with a playful attitude. There may be no “right way” to hold these ideas—just infinite combinations with which to play with them. When you feel you have it, then apply your maximum strengths and intellect. Chapter 2 provides more detail on the ideas. The central chapters of this book are Chapters 3 through 9; they interpret and translate the seven core ideas I have drawn from physics into usable tools for innovative thinking and improved planning. After your initial read-through of the book, I believe you can use each chapter separately or in combination as ready resources for expanding thought, challenging assumptions, and getting “out of the box.” Each chapter can be used like special-purpose tools by the reader to logically build solid reasons for an idea or argument that might lead to more innovative planning. At the core of any planning process is a sharing of ideas and perspectives. Individual contributions are often a key and can lead to important pivot points. The purpose of this book is to present a list of core ideas that, when reflected upon within the specific context of a particular organization, can inspire Aha’s! There is some note-taking space for you at the end of the central chapters. This book is primarily about the core ideas; however, I wanted to go an extra step and make them usable in real-life planning situations. In this light I have added Chapter 10, which is about personally empowering yourself to use what I am suggesting. I have met a lot of wonderful and smart people in my career and I have seen how who they are as people has made a big difference. The personal energy required to risk suggesting a new or challenging idea is as important as the brilliance to come up with it. I conclude with some of my own reflections about creativity that emerged as I worked with the ideas during the writing of the book. There will be no “grand theory” in the conclusion that “ties all this together.” Not only do I not know one, but as I understand it, the field of physics itself is still searching for one (a giant particle smasher called the Hadron Collider has just been built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN, at a cost of many billions of dollars to try to figure this out). As an experienced strategic planner I have included in this book not only ideas and theory, but ways to apply the ideas during a planning process. I use my experience as a consultant and specialist in scenario-based strategic planning to suggest actual techniques for applying what I suggest. You will see this explicitly at the beginning of each chapter, and in particular in the appendix, which addresses the application of my ideas to scenario planning. I hope this material makes this a truly handy little reference book for firing up your plans, opening up paths to innovation, and keeping minds open to more learning.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Planning, Thinking and Learning
1. Learning-oriented Planning
2. From Quantum Physics to Quantum Thinking and Planning
3. Thinking Beyond Duality
4. Inescapable Uncertainty
5. Intentions, Actions and Reality
6. The Illusion of Time and Space—Things and Order
7. Many Worlds—Catalytic and Kaleidoscopic Thinking
8. Thinking and Planning in the Field of All Possibilities
9. Organizations Are Energy Systems
10. Personal Growth and Quantum Thinking and Planning
Conclusion: Change, Creativity and Innovation
Resources: Scenario Analysis and Applying Quantum Planning
About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“A unique, valuable, and practical guide to the kind of planning that leads to successful organizational breakthroughs.” —Mitch Kapor, founder, Lotus Development Corporation "One after another, Harris frames the challenges facing the strategic planner and then provides helpful and practical ways of addressing them with the tools of quantum thinking. This is perhaps only the beginning of a dialog with these ideas." —from the foreword by Peter Schwartz, futurist and author of The Art of the Long View “When most people think of strategic planning, they think of boring one- or two-day meetings. Thankfully, we now have a bold, innovative way to direct organizations into continuous, ‘out-of-the-box’ learning and planning. Harris eloquently breaks down the concepts from quantum physics and applies them to organizations in a way that is useful and understandable.” —Christopher Morris, Manager of Communications and Web Resources, CUNA Councils