At regular intervals we will place here our own papers, or articles from colleagues and friends, which we believe will be interesting for you. Your feedback is welcomed!

Theory of Everything for Leadership

by Jem Scanlan, Valbonne, May 2002

A Personal view of how everything is indeed interconnected

Open Space Leadership - Whoever leads, serves.

In the Spring of 1999, in a Hotel near the picturesque village of Valbonne in the South of France, around 25 Trainers and Consultants, organised by a friend and colleague Geof Cox, got together for a weekend conference on - 'Leadership in the next Millenium'. What are the competences that our leaders of tomorrow require in the 21st Century? The conference took the form of an Open Space event that is built around 4 simple principles:

1. Whoever comes, comes
2. Whenever it starts, it starts
3. Whatever happens, happens
4. Whenever it ends, it ends

Despite these seemingly diffuse and somewhat banal principles, the event produced a wonderful set of discussions, topics and relationships between the participants. At the early stage of the event we had been asked to post our burning issues. I have recently been interested in the implications of Quantum Mechanics in our day-to-day life, and the models that we use, and in particular the quest for a Theory of Everything (TOE) or Grand Unified Theory (GUT) in physics. I wondered also if the plethora of management models, personality and group roles, were all based on the same, simple underlying model. So I proposed that we looked into the possibility of a Theory of Everything for Leadership!

We discussed many other topics and questions during the 2 days, but my search for TOE would not leave me. In a discussion with Steve Shaw, one of the participants, he proposed that perhaps Values, and their implications were the basic Stuff of the TOE for Leadership. This thought has remained with me and permeates the training and consulting that I perform. I begin to become convinced that Values are indeed the basic building-blocks.

In addition to this insight, I have kept the 3 major findings of the weekend in my mind and indeed work since. They were that Leadership in the 21st Century would have at least 3 major competences:

1. The need for all Leaders to preach and to practice Life-Long learning as the 'Servants of Willing Leaders' - I coined the word Learnership for this
2. Asking the Right Questions - Coaching
3. The management of continuous change - Project Management

A Goal is a Dream taken seriously

Parallel to this experience, I have been greatly influenced by a friend and colleague, Walt Hopkins, whose recurrent theme both in his life and in his courses is that 'A Goal is a Dream taken seriously'. Indeed I have dreamed my dream and taken it seriously - that is why today I am a Trainer and Consultant, in a company, InterConnect, formed with my wife, Hertha.

My 'favourite' course is now my own version of Walt's Life and Career Design, (LCD) that I call Life Design and Career Development (LDCD). This was created based on Walt's LCD, Lou Tice's Investment in Excellence, and my own experiences and readings as a manager, especially during my time working for David Stone, a charismatic VP with DEC in the 80's. It encompasses a lot of the things that I value and that I want to pass on to the next generations.

During the design and implementation of this course, I felt in the early days that there was an element missing; that something was needed to complete the set of thoughts and exercises so that the course came full-circle and was an integral whole. During one session I realised the missing link - Values! This was indeed the underlying building-block of the course, that, when realised, allowed me to structure the learnings and exercises in a 'correct' manner.

In another version of this course, I myself completed the exercise on finding one's own Core Values, and came up with a very short list - after several iterations and lists that were much longer than three elements, but these three seem to embody all the others.

A Values List:

• Caring
• Sharing
• Daring

The alliteration is deliberate, but also fits. Walt has a very marked style of using little 'rhymes' as mnemonics, and I have copied this also!

Not only does this list succinctly describe my personal mission in life, as well as the values that I try to live by, but also is linked one-to-one to the findings of the Open Space event in Valbonne -

1. Caring - Asking the Right questions to coach someone further in their journey
2. Sharing - Life-Long Learning and helping others to Learn
3. Daring - driving and managing change, using project management as a methodology.

The Right Questions?

The Life Design courses, are built around 3 very simple questions that the participants need to find answers to:

1. Who am I?
2. What do I want?
3. How do I get it?

During the course, we dig deeper into questions behind these basic three, and extend the questioning to Who, What, Where, Why and How? The How involves simple Self-Image Psychology concepts and other mind-ish things. The Why digs deeper into what is Important for the participants, how these Important Things influence the decisions that they make in Life, and how these Important Things indeed reflect their very basic and Core Values - The importance of Importants and the value of Values.

Life is just one Project after another….

In my first full-year as a full-time Trainer and Consultant, I have focused very much on teaching Project Management, in a Multicultural and Multisite environment. These courses have been designed and implemented for people only vaguely involved in project structures, for first-time Project Managers, for experienced Project or Program Managers, and for Marketing and Sales employees involved in major opportunities with major clients.

The design of the various courses has developed over time, and in one specific version of Project Management training, I have built the necessary structure of the course and the accompanying documentation around a set of questions:

Why, What, Who, When, What For, What If, How Much and What Next?

(As examples - beneficial change, scope, project organisation, milestones, communication, risk management, profit, post project review.)

These questions started to look familiar. The similarities of the questions led me - almost in jest - to suggest that the following equation is true:

L = ΣPi, from i = 1 to n, where L = Life and P = Project.

i.e. Life is just a set of projects, answering the same questions as we need to ask for projects in any environment. This assertion has led to hefty and emotive discussions, which have aided the learning process immensely! Even the standard definition of a project can be taken to refer to a life - a set of activities performed to produce a unique product or service, in a limited time and with a limited budget. Buddhists have the added advantage of indeed having a set of lives that are themselves a set of projects….

A Set of Questions

One of the proposals in the Project Management training, is that one uses a standard, 10-point agenda for all reviews in the projects, to ensure consistency and provide a standard checklist of activities that need to be reviewed on an ongoing basis. The above interconnection of the LDCD questions and the structure of the PM training, led me to extend the list of questions for BOTH courses:

1. HOW
2. WHY
4. WHO

Which in turn leads to a reconsideration of the structure, goals and intent of both programs as these insights lead to a new way of looking at the training and its impact and value.

The Influence of Influence

The simple answer to the HOW in both LDCD and PM is by Influence. Both courses use a different influence model as basis for the answer to the questions HOW? The one uses 3 Dimensions and the other 4 Colours. Nico Swaan - a friend and colleague and founder-member of the Learning Consortium - uses the idea of dimensions (I, We, You) of influencing impact using the analogy of who is present on the stage of life; Walt's colours stem from an Energy Model, relating to the energy that is used for each style of influencing. As we all know, Energy is equivalent to Mass, and Mass is 3-Dimensional…. Both of these people and models have influenced me profoundly in finding out 'Who I am; What I want and How I am going to get it'.

All training research points to the fact that influence is most effective at the level of peoples' emotions or Values. In order to influence someone best we need to find and then connect to their Core Values.

The most important person that you ever have to influence is yourself. As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote - 'Become who you are'. To do this you have to be clear on your own Core Values. Again we see the basic building-blocks are Values.

Culture is just another form of Otherness - Anotherness

Culture is sometimes defined as a shared set of Core Values by a given set of people. These Values define what is Right or Wrong; what is Good or Bad. In the SIETAR (Society for InterCultural Education Training And Research) conference in Vienna 2002, an entire Track was devoted to the cultural impact on projects and project management.

One session - devoted to extending the idea of Culture to include far more than just national or regional differences - decided that Culture was just another form of what one participant, Daniel Haeberle, defined as Otherness.

It was argued in another session, that each project produces its own social system, and thus a specific Project Culture. This would then be the shared Core Values of the project team and potentially also the Stakeholders of the project. Over the duration of the project, the project team defines 'Who it is', using the same set of questions as we use to define the project itself.

The project culture is created by 'Listening, Tolerance and Trust' - the Values of Caring, Sharing and Daring. We thus come full-circle to the Theory of Everything for Leadership that was initiated in the Valbonne Conference in 1999.

So What? - The final question in this paper

My search for the TOE, the interconnectedness of everything we do, has helped me to clarify how my various activities 'hang together' and reflect my adherence to my Core Values, and their influence on what motivates me and thus what I do best and most fulfillingly.

This reflection is helping me to develop further the contents of the courses, their interconnectedness, and hopefully thus their quality and impact on the participants. Also I hope that it will lead me onto other activities and courses that extend the ideas and themes expressed in this paper.

Why not start a project to define and design a course on the Theory of Everything for Leadership (TOEFL) to be able to influence the Core Values and thus the motivation and impact of the Leaders of tomorrow?

More of Everything

by Jem Scanlan, July 24th 2002. (Version 2)

After writing the TOEFL document - A Theory of Everything for Leadership - I shared the paper with friends and colleagues and also reviewed some notes that I had been making over the past 10 years or so. This paper reflects those insights of friends and also my own as I was a few years ago….

Comments on TOEFL

From George …looks more like a journal…something that you just want to share and see where it goes by itself…gratitude is my theory of everything…gratefulness, thankfulness, appreciation of what is, has been and in a way for what will be…I like it because it makes me really see and cherish both people and things, take time with them, hold them lovingly and treasure them.

From Nico …excitement buzzes through the article….designing your life as you would design or create a project…would it be possible to put in a few words to elaborate on the intention or direction of each of the ten key questions?

From Eric …puzzled by the pretentious title: a theory of everything? I'd rather prefer an essay on nothingness…

From Joep …11. WHAT VALUES? - …it might be an idea to continue to play around with the importance of values in this area as well…What happens to feelings? Are our true Values related to our true feelings?

Chronological notes from a decade of papers.

July 1990 - from an article 'Who needs a boss?' in Fortune magazine.

• The key to success for complex work is Superteams - self-managed teams from 3 to 30 people
• Superteams will be cross-functional
• The most common problem is the failure by team-members to understand the feelings and needs of their co-worker
• Implications - Project Based Organisations (PBOs) are the present/future model. Communications, at the level of feelings and values, is still THE key skill.

September 1992 - notes on Adaptive Organisations.

• An ever-changing constellation of teams, projects, alliances
• Ad-hoc teams attacking critical problems
• The task forms the organisation
• Leaders become followers
• Adaptive organisations exist in parallel to framework organisations
• Implications - PBOs again. Traditional roles and organisations exist to support and 'follow' the PBOs.

July 1993 - notes from the Steven Covey book The 7 Habits of Successful People.

• Be pro-active (Focus on Circle of Influence, not Concern) Sein, nicht Haben!
• Begin with the end in mind (Mission Statements; Right Jungle)
• Put 1st things 1st (Important/Urgent)
• Think Win/Win (Emotional Bank Account. No Deal)
• Seek to Understand, THEN to be Understood (Empathic Listening)
• Synergise (Trust and Co-Operation)
• Sharpen the Saw (Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, Mental)
• And the Eighth - CELEBRATE! (noted already in 93)

August 1993 - notes from 5th Generation Management on Leadership.

• Based on Values
• Network the right people
• Individual responsibility
• Organisation equals multiple, over-lapping networks or teams (i.e. Project Based Organisation)
• Project Management is critical
• A Leader is a Conductor, Coach and Mentor
• Questions are better than commands
• Share knowledge
• The 6 W's: HoW - procedures; Who - Stakeholders; What - Key Patterns; Why - Larger Context; Where and When - Rhythm and Timing
• Implications - Again…PBOs, leading and acting through Values, Asking the Right Questions..

June 1999 - email from Joep after the Open-Space event.

• Stories
• Sharing
• Journey
• Become/Be who you are
• Life and Career to be lived together
• Boundaries (Start/End) disappear
• Long-lasting relationships
• Love and Respect as Core Values

June 1999 -Geof's email minutes on the Open-Space event.

• Learnership - inspire others to continue to learn
• Content-free education (i.e. just focus on the processes)
• Back to Basics (B2B)
• Values - Importance
• Networks
• Milestones on a Journey
• Best problems rather than best practices
• Life is a project
• Project Management is the skill of this millennium
• Asking the Right Questions - the process of this millennium

Implications from the Open-Space event - a VERY powerful method; a focus on Being rather than Doing; a synthesis of the Decade that went before…

So What? - the ending question from the TOEFL paper

My initial gut-thoughts are:

• Clearly it is true that there is no such thing as a new idea - just variations on old ideas
• Making notes and writing journals is a necessary activity to keep one's thoughts and gut-reactions for later reflection and learning
• Open-Space events create a wonderful environment for Reflection, Learning and Connecting
• If all this stuff has been around for so long, why aren't more people doing it?
• How can we ensure that reflection, learning and connecting become an intrinsic part of our and other people's existence?
• To reflect on and alter a quote from George Harrison - is it true that the more we learn, the less we know?
• Another quote, from a Zen Master, (thanks to George) - In a beginner's mind, there are many possibilities. In an expert's there are none.

Is indeed More of Everything a Paper on Nothingness?

What this then means for me is the following:

1. Continue to reflect, learn and connect.
2. Continue to train, consult, and coach on PBOs.
3. Continue to help others design their lives.
4. Plan another Open-Space event in 2002.
5. Continue to work on the ideas in this paper and others with friends and colleagues.
6. Develop the services of InterConnect to reflect these ideas and the Values they represent.

Why Life and Career Design?

Shape your Future - Life and Career Design

The value and benefits of LCD - for the individual and the organisation


3 major questions that we ask and that the participants try to answer during the initial LCD workshop are:

1. WHO am I?
2. WHAT do I want?
3. HOW do I get it?

Before even entering into these simple questions with difficult answers, we ask an even more basic question:

WHY do I want to do this?

In another paper, I use the set of 'W-questions' applying them to projects. The WHY question for a project is related to clarifying whether or not the project will provide a product or service that produces a positive, beneficial and desirable change for the customer of the project, and all the other stakeholders as well.

The idea of the customer and stakeholders for your life-projects - which indeed are the outcome of an LCD session - is an interesting one.

Who is the Customer for your Life-Projects and who are the other Stakeholders for these Projects?

Let's start by proposing that the customer for your life-projects is you yourself. You may or may not agree with this, and indeed there may be an entire group of people that you will see as the customers of the projects. Perhaps listing potential stakeholders and their 'stakes' in your life-projects will help to clarify this. I will start simply by listing the potential stakeholders, this list will hopefully lead to the clarification of the potential stakes or impact that these people or groups of people hold or will feel if you decide, plan and then implement your life-projects(s).

Potential Life Project Stakeholders

• Clearly you yourself as customer are also a stakeholder
• Your partner
• Other members of your family
• Some of your friends
• Your boss at work
• Your colleagues at work
• The company that you work for
• Indeed anyone that is affected by the outcome of your project!

A major element in working through an LCD session is that the participants clarify what is important to them in their life. This leads through discussion on what motivates them to the clarification of their basic Values with a capital V. The value - with a small v - for the stakeholders is the basic question of this paper.

The next 3 sections give an overview of the content of and LCD workshop using the basic 3 questions of the workshop itself:


This 2-day workshop is designed for people facing major decisions in their professional or private life. These decisions may be of the nature of what route to take for the next career-step, perhaps a totally new route after a forced or chosen career change, a personal project at a certain stage in one's life, or maybe just a feeling that something is not right and you need to review where you are and where you want to go.


The participants will have the opportunity through inputs from the facilitator, personal reflection and discussions with the other participants to:

• Gain insights into limiting attitudes
• Prioritise what is important to them at this point in their life
• Understand the implications of their decision
• Assess their skills and preferences
• Clarify and plan to realise their goals


This workshop is a very special event - all the people attending have decided that they need to take control of their lives and focus in what is important to them at this stage in their personal development.

The flow of the workshop is thus driven by the needs of all the participants, and so in applying coaching and facilitation techniques, we use simple questions and models, various tools, exercises and discussions in a supportive environment to guide the participants through the initial stages of their preparation and planning for their next personal or professional project.


Once people have started to clarify their own personal basic Values - what motivates them, what de-motivates them, why they prefer doing some things and prefer not doing other things - it is much easier for them to decide what they REALLY want to do in and with their lives. In fact even the decision-making process itself becomes easier as people understand and live by their Values - some potential routes of action or alternatives are discarded immediately as they are against one's basic Values.

This leads us into the value of these life-projects both for the customer and the other major stakeholders.

Value for the Customer - You:

• Allows you time and free space to reflect on your life - this in itself is a worthwhile way of spending 2 days every now and then
• Clarifies your priorities
• Optimises your personal decision-making process
• Improves the Return On Investment (ROI) that you are making in managing this project - a desired, more positive and more beneficial life
• Maximises your potential both in your life and in your career

Value for your Organisation:

• Allows you time and free space to reflect on your present job and career
• Clarifies your priorities and how these relate to those of the organisation that you work in
• Optimises your decision-making process related to activities at work and the strategic direction of your next career steps and how this fits in with the strategic direction of the organisation
• Improves the ROI that the organisation is making from you, your activities and above all your potential - a desired, more positive and more beneficial perspective on the present job and career
• Ensures a better, reflected path towards the next career step to be of maximum benefit for the organisation.

In the Stakeholder analysis exercise, the participant lists all the stakeholders, the IMPACT of the project on them (High or Low) and their COMMITMENT (High or Low) to the change implied by the outcome of the project. The Stakeholders are then grouped into the four quadrants Hi/Hi, Hi/Lo, Lo/Hi and Lo/Lo. The proposed courses of action for the four types of stakeholder are:


• Hi/Hi - Enlist their help in the project
• Hi/Lo - Address their concerns
• Lo/Hi - Involve as needed
• Lo/Lo - Keep informed.

Keeping now the sponsoring organisation in mind as a major stakeholder, we need to judge the impact on the organisation of the outcome of your life-projects and also their commitment to supporting the changes necessary to allow this to happen, or the changes that will occur once it has happened. This will then allow you to plan the correct course of action to get the organisational buy-in and support necessary to participate in an LCD workshop and also for the ensuing changes that will occur as a result.

Given the proposed list of values for your organisation noted above, the positive impact and results for these specific stakeholders should be clear and beneficial for all concerned.


Anotherness V5, Or, Not another Ness!... Or, the Me-Ness within

by Jem Scanlan, Valbonne, August 6th 2004


Reviewing and reflecting on, and then synthesising the papers from TOEFL, thru MOEFL thru BeGood and its results, the following emerged as common or underlining themes through all of them:

• The value of Values
• Emotions
• Feelings
• Sensing
• To be, not to have
• Yes and No
• Synchronicity
• (Inter)-connectedness
• Relationships
• Communion
• Space
• Me-Ness
• Our-Self
• Uego=Σvi, i=1 to n? Are your values your identity?

How does all this apply to Anotherness, which was the starting point and initial reaction to the Intercultural world's focus just on culture, and in general just on national culture? My first attempt at an answer is the following:

Our initial starting point was the realisation that in working with young, well-travelled and educated people, the national culture model (e.g. Hofsteede, Trompenaars, Hall et al) no longer is sufficient. Very often the defining culture for these young professionals was the culture of the company that they were working for. Sometimes it was the department; sometimes the team; very often a mixture. About the same time as we started to reflect on this situation, we started working a lot with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) - a well-known and widely used model for personal behavioural preferences based on the theory from C.G. Jung. So this too was added to the list as yet Anotherness. This is beginning to get complex.

Does this mean that we have to take all these factors, and more, into consideration when reflecting on our own and reacting to other peoples' behaviour? Indeed it does! But is there not a more underlying, simpler theory for everything that we have listed - maybe our initial list of common themes above? Let's try and interConnect them all into a solid and useful model…How about 'The Smiley Model of Communication', based on the questions WHO, HOW, WHERE, and WHEN? The WHY and the WHAT will be covered separately…

The Anotherness Smiley Model


• The value of Values
• Emotions
• Feelings
• To be, not to have
• Me-Ness
• Our-Self
• Uego=Σv, i=1 to n? Are your values your identity?

(A short explanation of the equation… it is saying that 'U' (you), or more specifically your ego 'Uego', is the sum, Σ, of your 'n' values, v. This was a comment from Maria in her email after the Open Space event in 2003. The translation into an equation is mine… )


• Interconnectedness
• Relationships
• Communion
• Sensing


• (Open) Space


• Synchronicity

The idea is that the WHO defines those elements that are the ultimate basis for the Me-Ness of any person - thanks to Den Winterburn for this wonderful 'word'. The cultural layers of the person's Otherness come on top of this. The HOW are the means to access and influence these elements in that person. The WHERE comes from a comment from Maria Lee that she found the concept Open Space somewhat restrictive. Can we just not look at the SPACE within which we all exist and relate, without the need to Open or Close it? The WHEN reflects our experience that things happen when they are meant to happen - i.e. as a result of decisions, interests, focus, new significances etc.

Returning to the title of this paper - Anotherness - where I think we have reached now is a model that says that any person's Otherness is, at the very basis, the reflection of their Me-Ness, which is at least the reflection of the entities listed in WHO. This returns us to the conjecture that Steve Shaw made at the Open Space in 1999, that the bases for the Theory of Everything for Leadership… are the Values of a given person. This in turn effects the emotions, the feelings, the Being, and the self-ness. The HOW suggests that the best way of communicating with or influencing another person is to interconnect to their values, feelings, emotions, by using all the senses, and creating a Communion between the two Me-Nesses. This is best done in as open a space as possible - the other person's space - and will happen when it will happen; you just have to be open for the happening.
So what about the national, regional, corporate, departmental, team… layers of culture that also make up the Otherness of that someone? How can we link the premise of the first 2 pages with the need to account for the 'cultural' influences too? And indeed, how about the WHY and the WHAT of all this? WHY is Anotherness model useful and necessary for us as trainers and consultants? WHAT has to be done to incorporate this idea into our working models, processes and workshops?

In the next section I will try to answer these questions and hence complete this initial paper on the concept of Anotherness.

Implications and implementation of Anotherness:

Another way of stating the problem we are trying to resolve, and WHY we are trying to resolve it, is the following question, asked by Den Winterburn in the Open Space at La Begude:

Can we create events that are valid for everyone, regardless of their MBTI, Belbin, colour, race, gender etc?

Put in the way that reflects the theme of this paper:

Can we create events that are valid for everyone, regardless of their degree of Otherness?

The answer must be yes. But it entails the awareness, openness and tolerance of the trainer and consultant to create events that are 'open' enough, connects to the peoples' values, feelings and emotions and flows according to the other peoples' agenda - not that of the trainer, consultant or indeed more than ever, coach.

This implies I believe the following 'guidelines' or ground rules for any and all workshops that are focused on personal growth and development of the participants, as opposed to a Knowledge and Skills type of training, although perhaps even there some at least of the guidelines will still be valid:

• Any structure of the workshop must be fluid and flexible.
• Information sessions must be kept to a minimum - preferably not longer than 20-30 minutes.
• Real-life based exercises that can be self-tailored to reflect the Otherness of the participants should be the major elements of the workshop.
• Frequent debriefs and reflective sessions to underline and 'sense' the learnings that are occurring.
• Two-way or multi-way learnings that allow the ideas and needs of the participants to mould and define the next sessions of the workshop.
• Tools and supporting models that are inclusive rather than exclusive - e.g. OPERA or GroupExpo from Innotiimi Oy, which guarantees that both Introverts and Extroverts get their opinions across.

Any list should never be longer than 7 points otherwise you will forget the entire list!... ;-)

Also any initial paper on a topic should not be longer than 4 pages (A4), so I will stop there. Your comments and criticism are asked for and hoped for.

Program Example: Focus on Asia

Intercultural Training for China

Hidden notions behind an Asian smile

This seminar helps the participants to understand the Chinese mindset in order to work with them more efficiently and effectively. For successful negotiations and cooperation, one needs to be well versed in the cultural background and key concepts, such as guan xi (relationship, networks, connections) and mian zi (face).

Topics Covered in Program:

• Culture and perception
• What influenced the mentality of Chinese people?
• Chinese Society
• Social Problems
• Regional Differences
• Working style in China
• How to keep your working style efficient
• Communication style
• Negotiation and meeting style
• Conflict situation - " face"
• Social Etiquettes

"Most useful: large spread of topics, practical exercises to open the mind, technical/work relationships as well as the polite approach of Chinese people, presentation of topics via case studies and self learning."