The prolific and popular writer on biology and ecology, Lyall Watson (1980), has used an analogy to describe the principle of holography, which will ultimately help us to integrate quality and learning. If, he says, you drop a pebble into a pond, it will produce a series of regular waves that travel outward in concentric circles. Drop two identical pebbles into the pond at different points and you will get two sets of similar waves that move toward each other. Where the waves meet they will interfere.

If the crest of one coincides with the trough of another, they will cancel each other out and produce an isolated patch of calm water – the same thing as Robert Pirsig's “peace of mind,” which arises when the craftsman, or new-paradigm manager, is so at one with his or her work that true quality results.

In fact, there may be many different combinations of interacting waves, particularly if you increase the number of pebbles dropped from two to seven, equal to the full spectrum. The final result is a complex pattern of ripples, known as the “interference pattern.”

Light waves, then, behave in exactly the same way as the ripples in the water. When two laser beams touch they produce an interference pattern that can be recorded on a photographic plate. The record, if reflected off an object, will be a hologram. In equivalent terms, it takes communication between any two waves on the learning spectrum – for example, reactive and responsive ones – to produce an interference ...

Get Beyond Leadership: Balancing Economics, Ethics and Ecology, Revised Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.