Episode 71

Driving Deep Organizational Change with Robert Quinn

Many organizations and individuals often find themselves stuck making only small, incremental changes that don't really solve the bigger issues. Sticking to minor adjustments means missing major opportunities and failing to meet evolving challenges. There’s a clear need for a more impactful approach to change.

In this episode of the HAPPINESS SQUAD podcast, Ashish Kothari and Robert Quinn discuss how to drive deep organizational change effectively.

Robert E. Quinn, Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, is a leading expert in leadership, culture, and change. He co-founded Positive Organizational Scholarship and the Center for Positive Organizations. 

Robert is among the top 1% of cited professors in organizational behavior. His notable books include the global bestseller Deep Change and the award-winning The Best Teacher in You. His latest work, The Positive Organization, explores breaking free from conventional business cultures. 

Things you will learn from this episode:

• The purpose-driven definition of happiness

• Concept of Deep Change versus Incremental Change

• Role of Leadership in Organizational Change

• Integration of Well-being into Corporate Culture

To explore their insights in detail, listen to the complete episode now!


• Robert Quinn’s website: https://robertequinn.com/ 

• Robert Quinn’s blog: https://robertequinn.com/blog/


• Deep Change by Robert E. Quinn: https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Change-Discovering-Jossey-Bass-Management/dp/0787902446

• The Best Teacher in You: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Teacher-You-Accelerate-Learning/dp/1626561788 

• Watch out for Prof. Robert Quinn’s upcoming book: “The Transformational Moment”

• Hardwired for Happiness: 9 Proven Practices to Overcome Stress and Live Your Best Life.https://www.amazon.com/Hardwired-Happiness-Proven-Practices-Overcome/dp/1544534655


Ashish Kothari: Hi, Bob. It's amazing to have you with us to share your insights from your lifetime of work on flourishing and change. Thank you for joining us.

Robert Quinn: It's a pleasure to be with you, my friend.

Ashish Kothari: There are so many different definitions of happiness, flourishing, thriving, and well-being. People use all these different words. I want to start with a very personal definition from you. What does happiness mean to you? And over your years, how has that changed?

Robert Quinn: In conventional language, for most people, happiness is pleasure. It's the absence of pain. It's being joyful. That definition is fine, but there's a much more meaningful definition of well-being. It's being in the state of pursuing my highest purpose.

If I have a highest purpose and I'm having a good day, I pursue my purpose. If I'm having a bad day, I pursue my purpose. And if I pursue my purpose on a bad day, the bad day becomes a good day.

This definition moves us from helplessness—happiness as an accident—if everyone's treating you well, you're happy. The boss not yelling at you makes you happy. It's quite different to have that come from the inside out.

That's what purpose does for us. It allows us to become internally rather than externally driven. It changes the very meaning of happiness, success, and all those kinds of words.

Ashish Kothari: I love that. Purpose and meaning have shown up in every wisdom tradition, from the Stoics to Hinduism and the Yoga Sutras, which discuss swadharma—your reason or purpose.

Nietzsche said those who have a why can survive any how. I love this notion: a happy life is a meaningful life. If you want to cultivate happiness as a state, pursue meaning, not just on good days but even on bad days, because that pursuit makes a bad day potentially meaningful, if not happier.

You are one of the deepest experts and are in the top 1 percent of people quoted on change in every research work done over the years. In your book "Deep Change," you articulate how incremental change differs from deep change. Could you share the key tenets of what makes something a deep change? That distinction is so powerful.

Robert Quinn: Well, most of the time we're engaged in incremental changes. That is, something disrupts us. That means we have a problem. We enter this state of problem solving. We use the logical mind to return to equilibrium, and we do that all the time.

Incremental change would be like when I'm in third grade, or whatever grade, and they teach me that two plus two is four. The next day, they teach me that three plus three is six. That's an incremental step forward. If I understand two plus two, then three plus three is a logical next step. I've learned something.

If the teacher asks, "How much is three times three?" Well, I'm in big trouble because that's an entirely different paradigm. I don't understand multiplication as opposed to addition.

In our lives, we develop theories of who we are, what the world is, and how it reacts. It's a very hierarchical theory. It's very ego-driven. We have a name for it, we call it exchange theory or transactional theory.

One of the first assumptions is risk management. In fact, we have a scientific concept called the conservation bias. That means if you say something that disrupts my belief system, I work very hard to defend my belief system.

That is, you and I have a bias towards past equilibrium and preserving it. So that means everybody, everybody on the planet has that tendency.

To have a purpose is to see something in the future and to go after it, not knowing how to get there. You get there through learning by experience.

So you hold your purpose, you take action, you reflect, you fail or you succeed. You assess the difference, you institute another experiment, and you go forward, learning by experience.

None of us want to do that. We want to be in control. We want predictability. We want to minimize risk.

Now, another basic way to say this is everybody understands that knowledge comes from learning. So learning is the parent of knowledge. Knowledge hates its parent. It doesn't want to learn once we know something. If we have enough to get by, we can satisfy.

Transformational learning is being engaged in learning from experience, pursuing a purpose or fending off a crisis. And because of it, having a dramatic set of insights around the things you're wrestling with, it is a new perspective, a new way to see the world.

When that happens, you feel an enlargement of consciousness. You feel an increase in positivity. You feel that you have a capacity you didn't have just a few minutes before. There's an instantaneous shift where you stop living in fear, where we all live all the time, and you start to live in confidence.

I see this thing. I can learn my way into this thing, and you enter a new life state. When I talk about that, people listen to me from the fixed worldview and they say, no, it's not. This is not about the fixed worldview. This is about the fact that we live in continuous change.

We are constantly dying, because we deny the fact that we need to make deep change. When we make deep change, our contributions in the world go up dramatically. So we're talking about a kind of change that happens to us, but that we usually deny and that we don't understand very well at all.

Ashish Kothari: Yeah. It's beautiful. And I love this quote from you that I'm going to read. "The land of excellence is safeguarded from unworthy intruders. At the stand, at the gate stand two fearsome sentries, risk and learning. The keys to entrance are faith and courage." That really spoke to me.

We are risk averse and we only learn in fact, there's so much confirming bias even when we want to try and learn. And this notion of faith, bigger purpose, and courage. Courage, we are going to feel out of control when we try to make shifts away from the land of what we know, to the land unknown. And to be able to walk that is how we get to where we need to go.

Robert Quinn: In:

The basic argument we made was that social science is very good at telling us about the middle of the curve, what's normal. It's very weak at telling us about the right side of the curve, that is, what is excellence.

We said we have to begin to ask the question, what do individuals, groups, and organizations look like at their very best? Well, a lot of people bought into that. There have been many studies, and we've come to understand a lot about the right side of the curve, about excellence.

And the reason that quote resonates with you is that excellence is always out there. It gets denied for a lot of reasons. But it is not normal behavior. Excellence by definition is deviance from the norm.

And so, you have to go someplace you've not been before to experience excellence. And that's a terrifying notion because you have to trust the process of learning.

Ashish Kothari: And that's, and I loved your work. I mean, I discovered that work too late in my transformation consulting career. It's a shame. I think it should be a must-read. Frankly, the amazing work you all are doing for anybody who enters their first year in consulting, not to discover it 20 years into it.

And I actually think, you know, as much as positive psychology is talked about, I think the work that you and Jane and Kim have been leading is actually more powerful and more needed because individual change without organizational change is just not possible.

And, in fact, that's part of the reason why many well-being interventions today fail. They all focus on the individual. But unless we actually change the organization and move it towards the positive deviance of excellence, in pursuit of that excellence, everybody is going to try and get us to the base, get to the average.

So talk to us a little bit, you had shared when we last chatted, Bob, your own personal story of how you got to kind of fall into this field and then really dedicated your life to this work, your life's work. So share a little bit of that, your own experience of transformation and deep change and how that inspired you to pursue this work.

Robert Quinn: Well, early in my life, when I was 19, I was a missionary. I had gone through a conversion process and that work was brutally difficult. I went through several dark nights of the soul.

The first one involved committing to the work, buying into the purpose to the point that I was willing to endure the pain of doing the work, which was a big decision. Another dark night of the soul came around the process of learning.

I ended up getting a notebook and every night assessing every interaction I had that day, asking if it was effective or ineffective, why, and what I should do differently. From those notes, I squeezed out a set of action principles and formulated a strategy for the next day to interact more effectively, and I did this day after day.

As a result, I became deeply attuned to human interaction and what differentiated effective communication from normal communication. I began to apply those principles and it made a big difference, but I still wasn't successful.

Then I went through a third dark night of the soul, where I discovered I had to transcend my own ego. I had to do what I did for your sake, not mine.

It's a huge shift. The moment I made that shift and put those three things together—commitment, learning, and ego transcendence—everything changed overnight in miraculous ways. Suddenly the impossible was possible.

My relationships were different and I had profound experiences far beyond anything I could have previously imagined. Then the two years were up and I went back to school and they handed me 101 English and 101 Math, and I was absolutely alienated because it was so meaningless compared to what I had experienced.

I got depressed and someone pointed it out. I denied it initially, then admitted to myself that I was depressed. I had to figure out what I was going to major in. I used fasting and prayer and all the tools I could find.

Then one day, while fasting and praying and walking across campus, it was like I was struck by a bolt of lightning. The question came to me: what was the most significant thing you've ever done in your life?

I could answer that question instantaneously—it was when I talked to someone in the way I had learned and they changed their life dramatically forever. A voice inside me said, "major in change." That was exhilarating. It pulled together everything I'd ever done. It made perfect sense, except there was no major in change.

So basically, I was now in a Buddhist koan, like what's the sound of one hand clapping? You can't solve that; you have to be with it until it solves itself. As I stayed with that answer I was so excited about, I began to formulate rules.

As a sophomore in college, I was a better teacher than almost any professor I took. That sounds like a ridiculous statement. The professor knew content, but did not have a theory of human influence, a theory of great teaching, which I did.

I made a rule that I would only take professors, not classes. That meant I had to fight the university for my education. The university does not want you to be a proactive consumer. It wants you to say “Yes, ma'am. Yes, sir,” and do what it tells you to do.

Well, now I was fighting the university for my education. I became a proactive consumer. I had to figure out my own path to get into those classrooms. I went to public lectures if they were about change, read every book I could find.

By the time I finished my undergraduate education, I had a major in change. My certificate said major in sociology, but I graduated in change. That was an astounding thing. I structured my own education, which was exhilarating and made me different from all the other students.

Then, organization development was being born. I went to graduate school, studied that, and then did research on change, wrote papers on change, consulted on change. Because I had this one word, everything was synergistic. That made me different from all the other assistant professors. It was a very important journey at a very young age.

Ashish Kothari: Yeah. And such an inspiration. I often speak at the University of Colorado at the Leeds School of Business, and I'm going to share this podcast with them when it comes out, because your story should act as a big inspiration.

It's really about first tuning into what you really want to do, what you are being called to do. Then have the courage to pursue it, recognizing that our university systems and others are not designed necessarily to support you. But if you take charge, take the initiative, you can make it happen.

I had a similar experience at McKinsey. Our programs at many consulting firms grow you into a partner in a particular field, either in a sector or a function, and then as a partner, you grow that practice or use that expertise to drive more impact and through that more sales and success for yourself and for others who work with you.

fight with the Dark Nights in:

The firm wasn't designed for that, but yes, it took a couple of years of fighting. But then as I became more and more successful, because I had the courage to carve my own path, I got all the blessings from the firm to go do that until one day I outgrew the firm and decided to start Happiness Squad.

But this is something that I wish more people did as early as students, because what we don't control is the fact that we have to work hard, but we can at least work hard climbing our mountain versus some other mountain that we reach at the top in our late thirties, forties and realize, 'Oh my God, wrong mountain. Let me start over again.'

But listen, I am really excited about this because we are at a very interesting point in time. The post-COVID world is very different than the pre-COVID world because it forced the whole world to stop.

In that stopping, naturally people became introspective because there wasn't a lot out there to distract ourselves or to keep ourselves busy. People started looking for meaning and asking questions around how things are going and not liking the answer.

The field of flourishing, well-being, suddenly gained a lot of momentum, a lot of movement toward that started happening. But with that is also coming a lot of disillusionment. Spends have gone up, outcomes haven't. There are lots of things happening.

And, Bob, at the heart of what we are trying to do with Happiness Squad is really to drive that change. I truly believe the nature of that change, where we don't do flourishing outside of work, but we change the work so flourishing is an outcome, is a type of change that is really deep change.

It requires taking risks because leaders can force their people to work all night, all day, use command and control to get productivity, or lead differently around some of the practices that we are creating. And you've been at the intersection of both these fields, flourishing through all of your positive organization scholarship works and change.

What advice would you have for these change makers, all of these people who are doing well-being, chief happiness officers, chief well-being officers, or other individual practitioners, HR leaders, who really want to make well-being integrated into the workplace? What are some steps you might suggest they take?

Robert Quinn: That's a huge question, but a very good one. From the time we are young, we learn a theory of social life that can be called conventional or transactional theory. It's about hierarchy, power, obtaining power, and survival. It's ego-driven and self-interested.

Economists say people are self-interested, rational actors; resources are scarce; conflict is natural. They make these negative assumptions because their studies show them. This is what they find in the real world.

Kim Cameron and I have traveled the globe talking to audiences about social excellence, positive organizing, and positive leadership. We would be with a group of executives for a week. They loved every word we said.

On Friday morning, I would ask, "What are you going to go home and do differently?" Instead of enthusiastic responses, I saw looks of terror. It took three years to figure out why this was consistently happening.

The answer is, they know that if they go home on Monday morning and say, "I want to try this new process technique concept," there are two people on their team who will roll their eyes. Executives, highly educated, powerful, well-paid people live in terror of that sentence. That's called negative peer pressure.

Our organizations are filled with legions of people who are oriented to fear and threatened by learning. When you suggest doing something differently, they're going to manage you. The culture is going to punish you. That's why behavior regresses to the mean. That's why organizational change is so difficult. That's why most of the time change efforts fail.

As a team leader, I have hundreds of ideas on how to improve the team. But every time I think about introducing an idea, I worry about what the eye rollers are going to say. Think about that story and what it implies—who's running the company? It's not the team leaders; it's the eye rollers. Everything gets nailed to the status quo.

If you're going to lead change, you're going to have to leave the middle of the curve. I've interviewed hundreds of executives about this. They say, "If I'm being asked to lead this change, I don't have all the skills I need. And if I fail, I will be punished." The first answer is fear.

The second is, "I haven't seen my kids for a week. I am exhausted. Where do I get one more moment of time?" The third is, "I know the change they're asking me to make is going to do positive harm to my direct reports or my customers, and they won't listen." I feel full of shame.

Four, to bring about this change, I have to deal with people beyond my silo. Those are my peers. I don't have any authority over them. They think this is a tournament.

Five, my boss says he or she wants me to lead change, then behaves so I can't lead change, and I can't talk about it.

Six, the culture is a living system that punishes deviance from the norm, both negative and positive deviance. I feel fear, shame, exhaustion, conflict. I can't say in a public setting I'm full of fear. I can't say I'm ashamed. I can't say my boss is a hypocrite. In other words, I can't tell the truth and I live in fear.

When I feed those back to executives, the room goes deadly still. You can hear a pin drop. They all know that that's true. That's the world they live in. So why would anyone ever leave?

The only answer to that question is I care more about a purpose than I do about my ego. It is only then that I will endure the pain of leadership, which means the pain of learning.

ry gentle woman, says we have:

The first group is very tiny, made up of leaders. She knows they're leaders because when she meets them, she wants to be like them.

The second group is huge, made up of managers. They intellectually understand leadership. They can talk the talk of leadership. They just don't do it.

The last group is very tiny, made up of technicians who may never understand leadership. When she said that, it blew me away because I've seen that for 45 years.

She articulated it well. Hierarchies for many reasons are anchored in the status quo. Leadership is punished. We seldom ever see leadership in organizations, and this really offends people. They say, "I'm a leader." No, you hold a position. You may be the CEO of a company, that doesn't make you a leader. That means you have a position. You may be the team leader. You have a position.

Ashish Kothari: And the converse is so true too, Bob, in this work, which is you might not have a position, but you can be a leader. You can be the creator of that positive change.

Robert Quinn: That is the central message of positive leadership and positive organization scholarship: you can lead. They know they can't, but you're telling them they can. I'm telling them they can.

And the way they do that is they have to become positive deviants, but they're not going to do that if they stay in the theory taught to them from childhood, the one that dominates social life.

Ashish Kothari: In this work, I'm seeing more and more where you can show up. It was first about belief, like this is the right thing to do. You go to the heart. Now we have the data from the science of flourishing and well-being and the impact.

We know organizations that are flourishing have twice the stock market returns. They have higher profitability, higher productivity, lower attrition, more creativity. We know these are causations, not correlations.

But unless we actually get to the heart, to the fear, to the emotional state that keeps people stuck, we're not going to make the change that is so needed.

Robert Quinn: And the next problem is, we are trained from the time we could talk to engage in rational persuasion. The lowest level of consciousness and influence is logic, and yet we live in the world of logic. We engage the expert role. That's how we approach each other in organizations.

We attempt to persuade each other. When that fails, one of us goes to political power and we impose our will on the situation. So, we have rational persuasion and coercion, all of that revolves around the transaction theory, which embraces the notion of authority.

The alternative path goes from authority to inspiration. If people are afraid, if they have a belief system that leads to the status quo, you're in the process of trying to convert them. That's like a religious change. It's a deep change in your belief system.And executives don't know how to do that.

There's one CEO who says, "I do not want you to hold your people accountable. I want you to have your people hold themselves accountable." That sounds cute, funny, interesting, but it's really unfair. The people he's talking to, his direct reports, have no idea how to do what he's asking.

How do I get my people to hold themselves accountable? That means I'm not controlling them like widgets; I'm inspiring them as human beings. I don't know how to inspire anybody. I did not take Inspiration 101 in my MBA program.

We're talking about something that's outside their conventional paradigm. And as change agents, we see the same thing. The consulting firm you worked with, 90% of what was done was gather information, make rational arguments about how they should engage this strategy as opposed to that strategy.

They take the consulting report, they pay a million dollars, and they throw it in the garbage can. They repeat that process over and over again, because the consulting firms don't know how to inspire people to change. It's a problem that's ubiquitous. It's everywhere on the planet. And so I'll just stop there.

Ashish Kothari: Yes, and the work that I was inspired by, that I learned, showed me that while we know how to, many people and many projects lack the courage to deploy the toolkit. In all the work that I led, Bob, once I learned it, we integrated it into every program, and that's how we transformed the order of transformational success.

The four-part model we used addressed all the different elements you just talked about.

The first one was to explain the why. People needed to understand why the status quo was not an option and why moving forward under uncertainty, as scary as it was, was the only choice. You have to explain the why, because without it, people revert to what they've always done, since that feels safe and there is no learning possible.

The second part was that they needed to know how. If you want people to do something different, you need to teach them, because it's not taught. You have to allow them to experiment and create an environment where it's okay to fail, because nobody gets it right the first time. How do we create fail-safe experiments?

The third was, if you wanted people to change, you needed to create financial or other incentives, carrots and sticks. You needed to clearly articulate and measure it, because unless we recognize, reward, and celebrate the change makers, the eye rollers win.

The fourth, which we found to be one of the most important factors and least actually implemented, was as a leader, if you want others to change, be the change and role model it. If I tell you to let your people hold themselves accountable, but then I'm holding you accountable to let your people hold themselves accountable, I'm not exactly role modeling what I'm asking you to do.

So, when we found these four things in place, magically, we were actually able to move mountains. But if not, most of the time people implemented the first and the second; they got the reports that here’s the reason why we need to do it and then they conducted some training, but they didn’t address the other two.

Oftentimes, you get a rise and then a fall because, as you said, the status quo—our systems are designed to go back to the base, the normal, not positive or negative deviant. They don’t stick around.

Robert Quinn: I think that it's a matter of semantics, but the first step is the fourth step. As a leader, I've got to make that change first. What is the change? Well, I have to know what the why is. Most people in organizations cannot even conceive of an authentic purpose.

Every company has a purpose now on their website, but it's a PR statement. It has nothing to do with reality. The notion of having a purpose that's the arbiter of every decision and an anchor of integrity of collective integrity is incomprehensible to people in a world of transactions and survival.

That's a moral dilemma, the notion of a purpose that integrates everything is just not imaginable. But when you look at those companies that are flourishing, they have taken that step.

If you boil it down to individual leadership, the reason I take on the culture is I've clarified my own why, and I'm stepping into my own commitment and learning process and now I'm inviting you into it with integrity.

I'm helping you explore your why, making it safe for you to explore, to fail, to speak up. I am simultaneously challenging you.

One of the most interesting things about the research pattern is that the great leaders are high on task. They are not soft. They're very focused and high on people. They show people the why and the how, making it possible for people to learn by failing.

In fact, if we look at the transformational leadership literature, there are four factors that hold across the world. Number one is idealized influence, where I am transcending ego, leading in a selfless way, being your servant. Number two, individualized consideration, where I know who you are and you know that I know who you are.

You're a human being, not a widget that I'm manipulating. Three, inspirational motivation, where I'm connecting you to a better future, seeing potential in you that you don't see in yourself, and linking you to that.

Number four, intellectual stimulation, which is a poor label, but basically, I'm extremely challenging. You ask me a question, and I say, 'What do you think?' I constantly challenge you to think for yourself, give you assignments beyond your ability, constantly pushing you to do more. What happens then?

Well, if you feel that I'm absolutely selfless, care about you, link you to a better future, and challenge you to live that, you begin to flourish. That's when you flourish, and if you're flourishing, you're more likely to thrive and invite others to flourish.

Peter Block once said, 'All social change begins when one person makes the private public.' That's an incredible statement. All social change begins when one person makes the private public. So we're bringing that private statement into the public, and it's almost always a moral statement.

Leading change is a moral process. Managing an organization is an amoral process. What we teach in business schools is amoral. It's about being smart, being clever, doing the best cost-benefit analysis. It has nothing to do with selflessness, concern, inspiration, and challenge. That's not even part of the model. It's an uphill battle, but the world is on your side in the end.

this research. They looked at:

Otherwise, your performance and here's the research that they did, which is really powerful. What they found was they looked at companies, they did a two by two: companies that are performance drivers, companies that are people drivers, companies that drive neither performance or people, and then there are those who drive performance through people.

What they found was that companies that drive are both winners on performance and people. Profitability slightly higher, not much, 29% versus 28%.

But when it comes to likelihood of outperformance, the positive deviance is 4.2X versus 3X; when it came to resilience, a higher level of resilience compared to just performance; when it came to retention, significantly higher level of retention; and when it came to economic profit creation, way higher.

So, what you are inviting folks to think about is to not think about these as polarities. It doesn't have to be that way. There is a way to drive performance through people, but it needs courage. You need to show up differently.

Robert Quinn: It goes back to your word. You uttered a very important word in your initial statements when you said integration. The logical mind differentiates hot and cold, tall and short when someone walks into a room and they're different, whether by race, gender, age, the logical mind differentiates no matter what the policies of the company say.

r as I've been socialized for:

What I've done has made the company worse. Yes, I've got an angry woman. She may or may not be able to express it, but she's angry. I have more conflict. If, on the other hand, I bring her in and treat her with respect and dignity, listen to her, and make it safe for her to say what she feels, I now have a diverse opinion on the table.

A diverse idea in those teams you're describing. Everybody is safe saying everything they feel. In the average meeting, in the average corporation in the world, the meeting looks like this: everybody's sitting there with their arms crossed because underneath the table, there's a herd of elephants and the manager is terrified of those elephants.

He doesn't know how to resolve conflict. In a great team, that leader reaches onto the table, pulls up every elephant in the middle of the table, and we talk about it until we resolve it. And when I have a leader and a team where all the elephants are gone and the arms are unfolded, now I have a magical outcome.

Your brain, and my brain, and the brain next to me are all wired together. Instead of having five different minds at the table, I have one mind at the table. Five brains working on one thing versus five individual brains in conflict. That's what those great companies look like.

All the characteristics you just described, they stay because of that, they perform because of that, they take on hard tasks because of that, and the conventional ego-driven mind, as taught by the theories of management and the world, cannot comprehend it. It's simply not accessible to ego-driven theory.

So that's why in:

People were furious. His basic argument was until you're twice born—usually a crisis of some sort in your life, maybe you get transferred to Mexico and you don't know Spanish, that's a crisis, maybe someone dies, there's all kinds of trauma—but in that process, the ego dies, you become vulnerable, the ego dies, and you discover that you still exist.

At that point, you become capable of leading. There were hundreds of letters saying this is trash; they were really angry. Today, 50 years later, we have all kinds of literatures that say, in the post-traumatic growth literature, for example, he was absolutely right.

Once you've been through that rebirth once, the key is not going a second time through crisis, but by choice. And there are tools to help you and me to stay connected to emotional reality and material reality, and expanded consciousness to be in the state of learning and creation, but economic theory and management theory will not get you there.

Ashish Kothari: So this has been an amazing conversation, Bob. I want to end with you saying a little bit about the latest project that you're working on. Maybe even use this platform as an invitation to get some stories. So, could you talk a little bit about your current project, please? And then we'll end with that.

Robert Quinn: Well, I'm working on a book, trying to pull together all the work I've done in my life. Drawing from the 18 books, many papers, research projects, and hundreds of consulting efforts. I'm trying to put all that together into a statement that makes sense, with the title "The Transformational Moment."

Each chapter takes a piece of that, but at the end of each chapter, I'm asking a person to reflect on the chapter, not intellectually, which would be the normal thing, but for them to find some word, sentence, phrase, or paragraph that helps them think about their own dark night of the soul, their own transformation, and to share that very vulnerable, intimate transformation.

And to close the reflection by reflecting on other such events and share with us their insights about their own personal journey. The purpose of the book is to help readers get past their blind spots, past their cataracts, and to see reality as it really is.

Reality involves the material world and economic theory. It also involves that which does not yet exist but is coming to be. And, that is also real. In order to facilitate that, we have to be able to see beyond conventional theory. So, I'm hoping in this last effort to produce a product that people can say, "Oh, now I get it."

Ashish Kothari: Wow. Thank you. I can't wait to read it. I hope you're able to get lots of stories, "The Transformational Moment." Thank you, Bob, for such amazing wisdom and for your lifetime of just unbelievable work that you've been doing and your colleagues, Jane, Monica, Kim, and the rest of the staff and faculty at Michigan Ross and Positive Organization Scholarship group.

I'm really blessed to know you and to benefit from all the amazing research you all have done. So thank you. Thank you for spending time with us.

Robert Quinn: What you're doing is deeply important.

Ashish Kothari: Thank you.

About the Podcast

Show artwork for The Happiness Squad Podcast with Ashish Kothari
The Happiness Squad Podcast with Ashish Kothari
Unlock your full potential with the Happiness Squad podcast! Host Ashish Kothari, Founder & CEO, brings leading experts to help you live with more joy, health, love, and meaning. Discover the art and science of happiness to live and operate at your best.

About your host

Profile picture for Ashish Kothari

Ashish Kothari

Ashish Kothari is the Founder and CEO of Happiness Squad, a company focused on democratizing happiness and touching a billion+ lives over the next 20 years and helping them live with more joy, health, love, and meaning.

Prior to founding Happiness Squad and writing his best-selling book “Hardwired for happiness”, Ashish spent 25 years in consulting, including the last 17 at McKinsey and Co, a premier management consulting firm, helping thousands of clients and their organizations achieve breakthrough performance by building new mindsets and capabilities.

Ashish is a trained ontological coach and a lifelong student of human thriving.