Margaret J. Wheatleyâ€™s Leadership and the New Science ( San Francisco, CA: Berret-Koehler Publishers, 1999) is one of those books I picked up for a pull quote reference but which wound up as a â€œkeeperâ€ on my bookshelf. Itâ€™s a compact work (200 pages) that I return to on occasion and dip into for exploration or as a reminder of deep concepts.
By “new science,” Wheatley means the â€œnewâ€ branches of quantum physics, chaos theory, and biology that are overturning centuries-old models of science. The older science, reflecting the physics of Isaac Newton and the engineering principles developed in the industrial revolution, conceived of the universe as a kind of machine, with its various working parts animated by specific energy sources. It is a mechanistic model of the universe—and of business and, sad to say, congregational organizations—that remains with us today.