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Jaworski, Joseph Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub
Medium 9781609940171

9. Cairo

Jaworski, Joseph Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In early 1978, I moved to London to open our new law offices. The years over there unified my thinking in a way that would never have happened had I stayed in the States. I realized that the implications for the American Leadership Forum were global, that the free world looks to the United States as the model of democracy, and that if democracy is not working here, it’s not going to work anywhere.

By 1979, commentators were writing about leadership in the United States. Business Week, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, and the leading newspapers were all carrying stories, and Time devoted a special issue (August 6, 1979) entirely to leadership, including a wonderful editorial by Lance Morrow entitled “A Cry for New Leadership: America Looks for Leaders Who Can Construct a New Consensus.”

All of the writers addressed the same issues. They said there was a general retreat from community and national service all across the country, and that there was a self-absorption prevalent among the people of our generation, as well as a kind of civic cynicism. They talked about the fact that demographic shifts had taken place in the country over the previous twenty years which had made it clear that the old style of community leadership and regional leadership would never be effective again. New attitudes and new kinds of leadership were necessary. We needed more open, flexible, and participatory kinds of leadership. The commentators were saying what John W. Gardner had said twenty years earlier: Communication among the diverse leadership elements—city hall, business, minorities—was the first condition for renewal in our communities and in our nation.

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13. Synchronicity: The Cubic Centimeter of Chance

Jaworski, Joseph Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

All of us, whether or not we are warriors, have a cubic centimeter of
chance that pops out in front of our eyes from time to time.
The difference between an average man and a warrior is that the warrior
is aware of this, and one of his tasks is to be alert, deliberately waiting,
so that when his cubic centimeter pops out he has the necessary speed,
the prowess, to pick it up.

—Carlos Castaneda

A couple of months after meeting Bohm, I took a trip to the States with my son to visit colleges and universities that he was interested in attending. We were in O’Hare Airport, running down one of the crowded aisleways in an effort to catch a plane that was about to leave. Joey and I were running two abreast, dodging our way through the crowd. Up ahead, I noticed a very beautiful young woman walking quickly toward us. As I came within a few feet of her, I looked into her eyes, which were absolutely gorgeous. I stopped dead in my tracks, and as she passed me, I turned around and said to myself, “I’ve got to go get her. I know her from somewhere.” I was absolutely dumbstruck. It was very mysterious, almost as if (to paraphrase something Joseph Campbell once said) the future life I was going to have with her had already been told to me. It was something talking to me from what was to be. It had to do with the mystery and transcendence of time.

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1. The Source of the Entrepreneurial Impulse – The Quest Begins

Jaworski, Joseph Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF THE ENTREPRENEURIAL IMPULSE? WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF OUR CAPACITY TO ACCESS THE KNOWLEDGE FOR ACTION WE NEED AT THE MOMENT?

In the spring of 1998, I was sitting in the back row of a large auditorium in the Shell Learning Center at the Woodlands just north of Houston. Eighteen months earlier, Shell Oil Company (the then-autonomous unit of the Royal Dutch Shell Group of Companies), Texaco, Inc., and Saudi Aramco had announced their intention to form an alliance of all their refining, distribution, and marketing (their “downstream” operations) in the United States. The “Alliance” would be the largest downstream organization in the world, with annual revenues approaching $40 billion. The Alliance hired Generon, a firm I had cofounded, to help develop its senior leadership and to assist in the integration of the units into a cohesive whole.

On that spring day, about 250 senior officers, who were members of the transition team, had gathered for the kickoff of the new venture. The chief operating officer of Texaco, Glenn Tilton, gave the opening remarks. In those remarks, Tilton identified the greatest challenge facing the Alliance – how to compete effectively with the newer and more nimble entrepreneurial downstream operators that had appeared in the marketplace in the last five years.

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3. Birth of the U Theory

Jaworski, Joseph Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

IN A SENSE, THERE IS NO DECISION-MAKING. WHAT YOU DO JUST BECOMES OBVIOUS. A TOTALLY DIFFERENT SET OF RULES APPLIES.
Brian Arthur

A week later, Otto and I were in New York, seeing Professor Rao and Dr. Lipson, and the following week, we were in Palo Alto, meeting with Professor Ray. We were in a car near Menlo Park when my business partner, Susan Taylor, called me. She had located Brian Arthur at Xerox PARC and learned that he was writing a book and wasn’t taking any meetings. Susan informed me that I was going to have to call Brian directly.

I called immediately and managed to get through to him, introducing myself and explaining our project. When I said that we needed two hours of his time for an interview, he politely declined, explaining he was working on a new book and wasn’t taking appointments. I pressed him, telling him of the others who had agreed to see us. There was silence on the other end for a moment – then he said, “Okay, you can come by this afternoon for a couple of hours at two o’clock.”

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