The Antimatter Principle – the Metaphor

The Antimatter Principle – the Metaphor


I call it the Antimatter Principle because, to me, it’s the most valuable insight by far I’ve ever had in my whole career.

Why “Antimatter”?

  • It’s a strange name to choose, and so may spur curiosity in the folks who hear it. And may more easily lodge itself in folks’ memories.
  • Antimatter is the most valuable substance, by weight, in the known universe. The Antimatter Principle, when applied in businesses and other organisations, has the potential to be the most valuable principle by far when it comes to the effectiveness of collaborative knowledge-work – creative work involving groups of people.
  • Antimatter is the most concentrated form of energy we know. Attending to folks’ needs is similarly the most concentrated form of energy available to organisations.
  • Antimatter is incredibly rare – at least as rare as the idea that attending to folks’s needs is a viable and worthwhile focus for e.g. commercial organisations.
  • Antimatter is just so weird and alien. As is the idea that people matter, and that putting their needs first is any kind of conceivable option for businesses.
  • Antimatter is simple in concept, but incredibly difficult to produce in actuality. Ditto the Antimatter Principle. Putting folks’ needs first is simple in concept, but difficult to produce in reality. We humans have been schooled (sic) for so long to ignore our needs – and those of others – that overcoming this conditioning can seem at least as challenging as the production of useful quantities of antimatter.
  • Antimatter is the annihilative “opposite” of matter. The Antimatter Principle is in many ways the annihilative “opposite” to all the process-oriented approaches – Agile, Kanban, BPR, CMMI, etc. – that have monopolised, and tyrannised, folks’ thoughts and actions up till now, in the field of organisational effectiveness.
  • It might help to remind us that things are not as they appear. The world according to Quantum Physics is a strange and unintuitive place for us puny humans – much like the typical organisation, where we take for granted all that’s going on around us and rarely if ever look beneath the surface, nor understand much about what’s going on if we do look.
  • I’m struck by the parallels between matter (the everyday common experiences of folks working in e.g. Analytic-minded organisations everywhere) and antimatter (originally at least as abundant as matter, but now so very uncommon).

– Bob

Further Reading

Leadership And The New Science ~ Margaret Wheatley
Ten Things You Might Not Know About Antimatter ~ Diana Kwon


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