In Search of the Future Organization VII — Power, Jedi Power & Light

Pravir Malik
5 min readMay 8, 2024
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Reflecting on the Zappos Journey, I must also mention that, in some ways, prior goodwill had been generated that, in a sense, led to the ability to conduct experiments of the nature I have just described. This is because for three years before the experiments with EQ, PowersWithin, Light, and light-based mathematics (that I will review in another post), I ran the pricing operations group for the company, which effectively and profitably managed billions of dollars in assets daily.

The billions of dollars were managed to increase daily incremental profit by designing the whole pricing system as a complex adaptive system, just as Yosemite National Park operated as a complex adaptive system after the introduction of wolves. Patrick Martin, Principal Strategist at Zappos at the time, and I co-authored an IEEE paper, ‘Modeling of a dynamic pricing environment to enable success in complex adaptive markets,’ describing this system's essence. The system was unique in that combining different parametric possibilities allowed the boundaries of markets to be extended experimentally.

The long and short of this was that I viscerally experienced the essence of power. This power resulted from sizeable incremental revenues — because of the large asset base — built on the already comprehensive foundation of value that animated Zappos. The feeling of power derived from the realization that the additional revenues legitimately fueled the good things that needed to happen — and there were plenty of good things that Zappos was already engaged in to do with what it called ‘delivering happiness.’

Such power, perhaps, results in the right to conduct new and unheard-of organizational experiments. But there is another kind of power of a different order, which I will call Jedi power, often needed to reach and even manage the vital power related to cash flows for good.

I’ll describe an incident in which such Jedi power arose.

This was related to the A.T. Kearney journey described in Wizard of Oz. I described how, on meeting Peter Wagner, the then-COO of the company, things fell into place to become a part of the to-be-opened India office. The reality was that it was not so simple. I ran into a formidable roadblock when Human Resources would not process my papers to become an expat, citing that I did not have enough experience to be part of the founding team in an emerging market.

Now, I did not rant and rave at the time. I did not go to the higher-ups in the organization to get this resolved. Instead, for my path through the ‘system,’ for the necessity of my being part of this India journey, for whatever reasons, I found I was given access to another kind of power. I found myself naturally and simply beginning to silently concentrate on the situation and, in particular, on the person from whom I could feel the resistance coming. I continued to do this, not knowing what to expect. After some time, I felt a force, some very precise formation, to be exact, emanating from within me. And then I just let the whole situation go. Perhaps a day or two later, the person called me, saying they would never again try to block me. All the paperwork was promptly completed.

This kind of power has arisen spontaneously only a handful of times. If I try to summon it for something I believe is important, it will not come. It comes for its own reasons, but when it comes, it is irresistible and clears the way. This is what I call Jedi power. It is a system power. It comes from the larger system, the complex adaptive system within which we play our parts, for its own reasons. It differs from the vital power of the kind that generates cash flow. It belongs to a deeper space, a deeper layer adjacent to the physical layer within which we tend normally to act.

Other powers fall into this category: insights into people one may be interacting with and ways to interact with them or about the nature of one’s relationship with another, for instance. Action based on such insight has different results. Or an inner or deeper recognition of closing doors that, when kept in mind, allows one to move forward more quickly as per the system's flow and with minimal waste of energy.

Then, there are situations that are too complex and intractable to solve. For example, many hidden agendas are rarely voiced but influence situations and make it difficult to take logical action because stakeholders are playing games within games. This is where another kind of power, Light, must be leveraged. I referenced approaches in the X-Factor post that can be used for such situations regardless of scale. But Light has its own logic, and all one can do is see the situation's complexity as best as one can in Light — as if engulfed with Light — without judgment and without ongoing commentary. And then just let it go.

Our power is limited by the limits we place on it. Unlearning limits is a process that has to be strengthened, like strengthening a muscle.

In setting up an ideal systems-canvas sensitive enough to reflect the emergence of the future organization, such layering of power becomes important. I explore this further in a post on the mathematics of organization.

(To be Continued…)

Part — I: The Wizard of Oz

Part — II: The Power of Wolves

Part — III: The Necessity of Poetry

Part — IV: The Other Side of the Coin

Part — V: EQ & Managing at the Margin

Part — VI: The X-Factor

Part — VII: Power, Jedi Power & Light

Part — VIII: The Mathematics of Organization

Part — IX: Imperative of a Quantum-Like Core

Part — X: The Secret of Nataraja

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