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Bruce Holland

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As you know over the last few Snippets I've been talking about a Grand Unified Theory (G.U.T.s) of Business.

Looking for some unifying theory is not a new idea.

The Greeks had a word, Kosmos, which described the patterned whole of all existence, including the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms. It's so characteristic of our materialistic western society, that we have taken this word, and turned into a far more limited concept called Cosmos. Cosmos includes only the physical world. Like so many other things in our materialistic world all notions of emotions and spirit have disappeared.

In physics they call it the Theory of Everything. It promises to unite all the known fields of science including electromagnetic, nuclear forces, and gravity into one supermodel. Scientists call this supermodel the M-theory. I forget what the M stands for, perhaps it's the Mother of all theories.

When I have been talking about the G.U.T.s of business, I don't claim to have all the pieces united. I don't even know whether this is possible. But I figure that it's better to have some wholeness than none at all. At least G.U.T.s covers the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms in business, so that's a start.

Who cares?

Does it matter what theory people have in their mind?

I think it's vital. It affects what people do and how they behave. Let me explain....

Recently, I was working with a group of about 30 senior managers from a major government department. I randomly split the group into two sub groups of about 15 people. Then I put a rope around the first sub group and told them they were in the fifteenth century, that the rope represented the edge of the world and that they would fall off the edge if they stepped outside. The second sub group observed what happened. This is what they saw: Everyone was crowded together, they all faced inwards, there was little if any movement or talking and they seemed scared to get too far from the centre of things.

With the second sub group I removed the rope. I told them that they were living in the seventeenth century, Copernicus and Columbus had proved that the world was round and they could sail in any direction and eventually return safely. They were observed by the other sub group. This is what they saw: Everyone was facing outwards and no one looked scared, indeed almost immediately some of them rushed out to the furthermost corners of the room, they picked up things and brought them back to the centre and started trading, there was lots of laughter and talking and joining up by different individuals.

And all these differences occurred just because the individuals had a different theory about how the world works in their mind.

I think the G.U.T.s of business is just as different from the MBA model of business, as the the world-is-round was different from the world-is-flat.

And it will cause differences in behaviour at least as great.

How would you behave if you knew G.U.T.s was for real and:

  1. Your business is not a machine, it's a living organism?

  2. You don't get the best out of people by control, but by encouragement?

  3. People are not closed, they are learning machines?

  4. People can't be herded, but they need to be led?

  5. It's impossible to engineer outcomes, it's better to find successes and amplify them?

  6. The power is not in the people, it's in the connections between them?

  7. A book full of rules will lead to less order than few rules that are accepted by all?

  8. Too much organisation will back-fire, we need to trust that emergence is part of the way the world works?



Bruce Holland

Helps large organisations be focussed, fast and flexible. Places where people have more meaning, depth and connection.

Expert in Strategy, Structure, Culture and Leadership Development.

One of NZ's most experienced change agents.

Liberating the Human Spirit at Work
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