My work from the time I helped Daddy in the family business through my tenure as a Professor of Management all nurtured my interest in intuition. These experiences created obstacles on the way to The Intuitive Self as well as planted seeds for the tools to overcome them. In innumerable subtle and not so subtle ways, my career experience intertwined its way into the fabric of my search for inner knowing.
My working career started when I was in grammar school. My father left the newspaper business as a reporter in the 40s to start his own company in our garage. He believed the college trained reporters were taking over the jobs of older professionals like himself. Our wood products manufacturing company started with Daddy building saws and drills out of angle iron bed frames to perform the special cutting and drilling functions necessary to build household stepladders.
I acquired an intuitive fondness for wood textures since I spent most of my time when I was not in school processing wood into stepladders. In addition, I developed a love for rational mechanical things since I kept the machines in good repair. Because so many hours were spent doing this work, I missed out on most of the free play my friends seemed to enjoy. I remember Todd and Thomas standing outside the garage door asking if I could come out to play.
This established a lifelong pattern working day and night seven days a week trying to do everything that always seemed needing to be done. When we acquired a sawmill, we had lumber by product that was not suitable for stepladders. This started a sideline making surveyor stakes from the lower grade wood. Their manufacture required a manual cutter to point one end of the stake. Operating the pointer for hours on end laid down an intense pattern of physical tension that was aggravated by the long hours and days.
This work laid the foundation for my interest in and obstacles to my discovery of The Intuitive Self. Operating the sawmill, I had to get the most out of each log to maximize the lumber for ladders and minimize the wood for surveyor stakes. Although the business was never profitable, ladders were more so than stakes. Sizing up a log and deciding the sequence of cuts was regular practice using intuition in the small to get the most out of each saw cut.
The tension pattern laid down by the stake pointer was a catalyst for exploring body therapies to first overcome frequent migraine headaches and later the debilitating effects of long term stress stored in the body. Experimenting with massage therapies, taught me to focus awareness on the present moment by paying attention to sensations. A necessary condition for resolving the tension was to become intimately aware of the childhood stress pattern present in my adult experiences.
My Dad's newspaper experience and difficulties getting the business on a sound footing contributed to his feeling I should become an engineer. A career in a burgeoning field would ensure I would not encounter similar problems. As I discussed in another thread, my abortive year at Georgia Tech demonstrated I was not even technically enough inclined to be an industrial engineer. After my excursion into engineering, I did not have the money or enthusiasm to continue college.
I returned briefly to the family business and worked for one of the surveyors who used our stakes. In the mid 50s, I enlisted in the Navy. Having scored well on placement exams, I accepted an opportunity to enroll in the naval flight training program. The adventure and prestige of being an officer and a pilot was appealing. Off I went to Pensacola to become a Top Gun long before the movie popularized the calling!
After 200 flight hours, it was time to learn how to use the aircraft as a weapon. My spirit of adventure dried up as I realized killing was not my cup of tea. I gave up the program to complete my tour of duty on an oil tanker in the Mediterranean. I was not destined to be a hero as either an engineer or a pilot! For the third time in my life, I confronted a primal archetype, this time in the form of "the destroyer." But as was true when I encountered "the earth mother" with Marlene and "swords into plough shares" at the UN, this took place in the unconscious rather than the conscious mind.
After returning from the service and getting married, I enrolled in a liberal arts college. I was still involved in the family business. One morning while mowing the grass in my back yard, a strong impulse seized me to tell my parents that I would no longer work in the business. This was an earth shattering, life changing event whose intuitive dimensions I would not appreciate until years later. After obtaining a bachelor's degree, I continued for a master's degree.
The director of the Rollins business studies program (we did not have a major) advised me to apply to top schools in the North and accept the best offer. He suggested two areas with the most promising long term career opportunities: computer science and actuarial science (this was the early 60s). So we were off to the Windy City for an MBA in Mathematical Methods and Computers at the University of Chicago.
Computer Systems Analyst
Chicago had a reputation for being rigorously rational. There would not be much nourishment for my intuitive mind there. However living in Hyde Park offset the rational tone in my classes. It was a mini United Nations. Growing up in provincial Central Florida, I had not been exposed to cultural diversity. Except for shore leave while stationed on a ship in the Mediterranean, I had limited contact with other cultures.
Cultural diversity and a liberal neighborhood mentality nurtured my intuitive orientation. While I imagined my classes were the most important part of my education, living and shopping in Hyde Park had a deep impact at the subconscious level. Going to the Co-op for groceries was like taking a trip around the world both in terms of food on the shelves as well as shoppers in the aisles. The magnificent museums opened up other intellectual horizons to explore. The Asian art section at the Art Museum was my first encounter with Shiva Nataraja.
Only months away from a degree, job offers were numerous. With my new found love for computers, I took a position with the McDonnell Automation Center in St. Louis consulting with clients on operations research (OR) systems to optimize some aspect of business whether that was scheduling classes or running a starch refinery. As I worked on different projects, I realized something was missing. This was especially true when I worked closely with people who were clients for the OR models. Their non rational sense was not included in our equations!
After two years in St. Louis, I was ready to try something else. I took a position with Standard Oil of Indiana in their newly formed corporate operations research group which was overseeing the integration and consolidation of their nationwide computer systems in dozens of subsidiary companies. Here again I discovered something was missing. The more skilled I became with rational computer methods, the more clearly I saw that they did not tell the whole story.
Not only was something missing from the OR models, but something was missing in my career. My work was not intrinsically satisfying. I still marveled at an elegant flowchart or exquisite segment of program logic, but deeper nourishment was absent. I spent three days completing a battery of skill and preference assessments with a career counseling firm. Their recommendation was to obtain a Ph.D. and pursue a university teaching career. Still following my undergraduate advisor's advice, I enrolled in the best school I could afford.
An Intuitive Manager!
That brought me to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. To help meet expenses, I consulted with a Standard Oil company in Philadelphia that manufactured plastics. I worked with the sales department developing a short term sales forecasting system. I prepared the requirements specifications that stated what the users wanted the forecasting system to do for them. What was striking about this experience had little to do with the project per se.
Of the 31 sales and marketing people I worked with, two people were different. One was the department manager and the other headed up international sales. These senior managers thoroughly aroused my curiosity. When I talked to them about what they wanted the system to do, they immediately had a clear picture. In a quick interview, they would tell me what they wanted the computer to do. I wondered why the others did not have the same understanding of their needs? I discussed this with the one who was more approachable.
As he described it to me, he had the ability to sit at his desk, answering the telephone, holding meetings, etc., and separate a part of himself out to stand in the corner and observe what the other parts of him were doing. He was aware of his personal processes. Without knowing it, I had my first experience with a consciously aware intuitive manager. Years later when I discovered that part in me, I gave it the name "observer self." I had stumbled onto one of the missing ingredients.
With the exception of one professor, the computer faculty at Wharton was hard core technical. I was fortunate to work as teaching assistant for Adrian McDonough whose keen interest in the organizational side of computer systems was an inspiration. Our association nurtured my discovery of the non-technical intuitive dimensions of systems. With course work complete, I taught two years at the Case Western School of Management while I completed my dissertation.
While in Cleveland, my children were preschool age. My deepening interest in education drew me to the Montessori school at the neighborhood Hebrew temple. Somehow along the way, I had acquired a taste for being on the edge exploring new territory. Although Maria Montessori was not new to others, she was to me. The more I learned about her philosophy, the more compelling it was. In her words:
A poster with a child intent on his process with the phrase "education is not something which the teacher does" hung in my office for decades. That motto was not compatible with traditional university business education. But The Intuitive Self knew this was a deeper truth!
My son spent two years in Montessori while my daughter spent one year there and another in public school. His teacher was born to be a Montessori teacher. Hers was a disaster - she had no business in that kind of classroom. However without special training, my daughter's public school teacher was on a par with my son's Montessori facilitator. This puzzled me - what was going on here? From the teacher contrasts, I discovered the crucial role of personality and attitude in teaching success. The Montessori philosophy became my guide even though I taught in a university setting.
As my teaching experience matured in the Montessori view, I realized students where as important in education as users were in computer systems. My attraction to the ideas of Carl Rogers on relationships and personal growth drew me to his ideas on education. His personal thoughts on teaching and learning became guidelines for my approach to education. After digesting meanings that had come to him from classroom teaching and the therapeutic encounter, he stated the implications of these discoveries as "do away with:"
After 30 years in the classroom, I came to similar conclusions. Most education was a self serving, back scratching activity. I no longer considered myself a teacher. Facilitator and guide were closer to the target, but still not adequate. Perhaps co-participant in the self discovery process was closer to the mark. I too eventually did away with examinations. And as the years went on, I was less confident grades were relevant to any meaningful aspect of life. Unfortunately students needed them to get into graduate school. As part of the course materials, I shared my viewpoint on grades with the students.
A Chinese epigram captured some of Montessori and Rogers' spirit:
In the first session of each class, I explained my philosophy as best I could. I included the epigram to help communicate what I was trying to say. Since my thoughts were far from the main stream of their previous educational experience, many had difficulty with what I said. It was not unusual for students to drop after I expressed my philosophy.
Early Teaching Assignments
Four major content areas emerged in my teaching career:
With few exceptions, I was blessed with the freedom to pursue my teaching interests where ever they took me. For 25 years, the taxpayers of the State of Florida paid me to follow my inclinations in search of the holy intuitive grail.
It was clear my career initiatives had planted the seeds for discovery of The Intuitive Self. My experience with the manager at the plastics manufacturing firm was a case in point. Having spent four years in business using computers, I saw a role for someone who could bridge theory and practice. I thought of myself as an academic practitioner. From this sprung the idea of a university program for computer professionals who studied academic theory and applied that to projects in their work setting.
Only in its second year of operation, FIU had not made provision for special programs of this type. Working with the business school dean, I created and inaugurated the university's first certificate program. The Management Information Systems Certificate courses were designed for undergraduate and graduate majors as well as business practitioners to share the same class. These ideas were expressed in the Objectives for the program:
Since students were stronger on theory and professionals, on practice, the possibilities for synergy were obvious. This worked well until the business school sought accreditation. Now undergraduate and graduate students could not be in the same class, and people who had not been admitted as regular degree seeking students could not enroll in the same courses. That ended the successful certificate program. Twenty years later, former students would tell me how important that program had been for their careers.
My primary teaching assignment was the junior level introductory course for computers required of all business students. There were two philosophies on how to approach this course. One emphasized the technical, and the other, the non technical aspects of computers in organizations. Given my business experience with the limitations of technical solutions, I came down strongly in the second camp. Using a variety of texts, I never found one that suited my philosophy. Most were too technical and academic for my practitioner orientation.
Whole Brain Teaching
I set out to create my own textbook: Information Systems. I wanted to take a systems view and ensure users received significant consideration. At the time, I struggled with integrating the rational and intuitive perspectives. In the Preface, I used the idea of word versus pattern processing to recommend a study method. I was swinging over to the intuitive end of the spectrum after having been anchored at the rational end. My intuitive side was coming out to make sure rational details did not drive out the human dimensions. As a result, the study method emphasized an integrated, top down approach.
Even though I highlighted the intuitive study strategy, I was cognizant of the need to blend the rational and intuitive in a complementary synthesis. In large sections for the introductory computer course, I used dual overheads to achieve a whole brain display of the material. One projector presented figures and tables from the text on the students' right and the other, a mind map version on their left. This supported simultaneous viewing of logical layout and intuitive pattern versions of the same material. This encouraged students to reach for a whole brain grasp of the subject.
The idea of using both modes simultaneously was more clearly developed in the second edition of the textbook. Exploring these ideas reflected my need to transcend an overemphasis on either the rational or intuitive. I used Robert Pirsig's discussion of the differences in deductive and inductive inferences to argue for mixed solution strategies in systems development. I learned that inductive bottom up reasoning from particular experiences should complement deductive top town inferring from general principles for a whole brain strategy.
Although I expressed the whole brain theme for students, the personal payoff was changes in my decision style as it became more holistic. My interest in the relevance of these ideas for general management led in 1979 to a special topics course in Managerial Decision Styles. The first paragraph of the Course Description illustrated the shift I had made from focusing on the electronic computer to the biocomputer:
This turned out to be a watershed in my university career. This special topics offering went on to become a regular elective in the general management major. With my wife and a colleague (who both audited the first class), we team taught the course for several years. Our interplay of strengths developed the offering to the point where it won first prize in the American Institute for Decision Sciences national competition for innovative education in 1980.
Intuition in Management
Eventually Managerial Decision Styles evolved into Intuition in Management. This happened as my self discovery process progressed from integrating left hemisphere rational and right hemisphere intuitive styles to a search for a deeper form of knowing that I called intuition in the large. This was distinguished from traditional right hemisphere intuition in the small. To the extent business academics paid attention to intuition at all, it occurred primarily in Herbert Simon's "analyses frozen into habit and into the capacity for rapid response through recognition" version. (Note 124)
The first offering of Intuition in Management was a PhD special topics in the fall of 1993. The same term the course was approved as a regular offering at the doctoral level. In addition to four PhD students, a colleague audited the seminar. A highlight of our weekly meeting was each person sharing an intuitive experience from the previous week. This feature worked so well that I expanded it the following year to include a written journal entry for the experience. The oral version from 1993 became the first edition of the Intuitive Experience Journal which is now in its eight edition.
The undergraduate and masters level Managerial Decision Styles courses were renamed Intuition in Management to recognize they had evolved as a spin off from the doctoral offering. All three intuition courses shared the common assignment of keeping a weekly Intuitive Experience Journal. In addition, the MBA students followed a weekly practice which they reported in an Activity Journal. Finally the PhD students were responsible for reading assignments along with both journals. All three levels are now available in versions tailored to meet the needs of management training and development clients.