Apr 6, 2020
Norman Wolfe, founder and CEO of Quantum Leaders, is a leading
voice in bringing about a transformation in the core paradigm of
He is a 15-year veteran of Hewlett Packard, has led companies
large and small, been a public company director, and has over 30
years consulting and mentoring leaders in a wide range of
He is the author of The Living Organization, an
application of the core principles of how the world works, to how
organizations and individuals can create extraordinary impact.
What We Discuss With Norman Wolfe In This
- How the current way we look at business organizations is
- Why the key to success is building a new model for business
that makes the old one obsolete
- What we can learn from the way nature adapts and responds to
- The core principles of a Living Organization
- The objectification of organizations and its impact on employee
- The paradox of habits
- The importance of shifting context within organizations to
create desired change
Episode Transcript Highlights
- There’s a lot of talk in business today about trying to make
organizations resilient, adaptable, creative, and innovative.
People are trying to adjust the old system and they’re failing at a
rate of 70%.
- The problem is that we’re following a way of operating an
organization that literally cannot achieve the goals we want.
- We typical think of an organization from a mechanistic view –
we plan, organize, lead and control. That means the leader
physically designs the machine or tool and everyone is supposed to
- “Our people are our most important assets.” – This is a
mechanistic view of people, as parts, assets or things that make
the machine work properly. The thing about machines is that they
are not very adaptable, so they need to be redesigned. We call that
- Looking at nature – living systems likes trees, birds, animals
- they are highly adaptive, they respond to their environment. They
shift and change as need be.
- Human beings are also highly adaptive, if we’re not part of a
- What if we looked at the human body as a living organization?
It is the most efficient, effective, creative, and innovative
organization. It has 300 billion employees called cells. We know
now that cells are sentient beings – in other words, they are
- Think of an organization as a person, as a being, with a soul
- The first thing is to realize that it’s not about creating a
Living Organization, it’s shifting the lens. See it as person and
give it a name. Is it more masculine or more feminine? Is it more
introverted or more extroverted?
- The leader’s role in a Living Organization changes from command
and control to setting the context and the purpose of the
organization, developing the people, building communities, and
being in service.
- Instead of using people to produce outcomes, you use outcomes
as a path to develop people.
- The second part is realizing that everything is energy.
Therefore what we want to do is help the organization utilize and
maximize the energy directed to producing the value we want to
produce for customers.
- There are 3 fields of energy that we create through – activity,
relationship and context.
- If people are in sync, harmonious and complementary, you get
more energy flowing than in a situation where there’s tension.
- There is a being-ness that we have individually – there’s a
field of energy and it is contagious energy.
- Who we are being as an organization affects the quality of
relationships, effectiveness of activity, and so forth.
- Most people don’t get the sense of energy in context and how
that energy has a creative force.
- We create behavioral strategies to make us successful in life –
we’re creating our context and they become habits. The habits we
create become automatic.
- At some point however those habits may no longer serve us. In
other words, the old context doesn’t support our new desired
behavior. However because context is almost like a sense of
identity, letting go is like a death process.
- Therefore, creating a new context involves a mourning or
grieving process, honoring and respecting that which was, a new
story about what how you are choosing to be now, and rituals around
it to concretize our belief systems.
- “You never change things by fighting the existing
reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the
existing model obsolete.” - R. Buckminster Fuller
- “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the
world will know peace. Forfeit your sense of awe, let your
conceit diminish your reverence and the universe becomes a
marketplace.”- Abraham Joshua Heschel
Episode Show Notes