Welcome to our interview with Mark Ricketts, CEO of impactRI Ltd., the inventors of the QIARK system. QIARK is an innovative new technology that amplifies the intelligence and judgment capacity of individual people and groups to solve commercial, political and social problems.
QIARK was designed to uniquely capture the small voice in everyone and allow them to be present and valued, but without chaos, or oppression. The system effectively creates a virtual reality experience where, in true quantum intelligence spaces, the possible and the probable exist alongside each other as choices, rather than inevitabilities. QIARK makes every contributor valuable by giving them autonomy and credibility. A shared space is created virtually for joint thinking with no borders or limits — unless they are useful ones.
For this interview, Mark utilized the QIARK system to respond to our questions. Mark responded to some of questions individually, and in other cases he solicited group input from his team as noted below.
Welcome Mark, and thank you for contributing to the questions that are at the heart of Forward-Thinking Workplaces.
How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?
- We create a system where every voice can be heard and given fair consideration
- We create a decision process that adopts consensus and not rivalry
- We provide a system where no one feels afraid to give their opinion
- We reward at the group level as well as the individual
- We include everyone in the decision making process
We create a system where every voice can be heard and given a fair consideration. That was my top answer. When it came to these Qiark’s, I brainstormed myself giving myself the answers I felt were most appropriate and then I brainstormed my reasoning by comparing each of the ideas I put up with each other idea. It took me about 30 seconds, and that’s the probability matrix I came up with. My top answer was “We create a system where every voice can be heard and given a fair consideration.”
I was trying to place myself back in school. I was a teacher for 20 years. Here in the UK we seemed to have ditched the whole idea of staff meetings except to be told things. In large environments like schools, people really don’t get a chance to talk and so not only do you not hear those innovative voices, but people don’t actually get behind what innovations they’re presented with because they always feel like they’re coming from the outside.
What does it take to get an employee’s full attention and best performance?
- Having the proper tools for the job
- Team spirit from top to bottom
- An atmosphere of support from the people you work with
- A good team of people who respect each other
- Encouragement and support when things go wrong
- Recognition when things go right
I almost surprised myself here. My top answer was having the proper tools for the job. Once again, I guess that’s laden with the problems experienced by teachers in schools. We never quite seem to have the right room, the right tools, the right calculators, the right equipment, working computers, and so it impacts your time. You spend most of your time patching the system up.
Under that you can see I’ve got team spirit from top to bottom. It’s always been important for me to have everyone working together. Teaching is one of those places where you can have a good team spirit because nobody seems to be in competition with each other for the next job up the line.
Other responses include an atmosphere of support from the people you work with, a good team of people who respect each other, and encouragement and support when things go wrong.
And my least answer was recognition when things go right, which is quite interesting because I’m normally a person who likes to be patted on the back when I do things right. So just having the proper tools for the job was my answer to this question.
What do people really lack and long for at work?
- To feel valued
- Quality of life
- Enough money to make their lives enjoyable
- To see the bigger picture
- Flexible working conditions which are not always possible
- To understand the purpose of the company, not just the vision
This is quite interesting for me because when I did this I thought , “Well, given the way the economies around the world work, I fully thought that this would end up being a money question.” Now you can see the answers that people came back with: to be valued, quality of life, money gets there in third place, see the bigger picture, and flexible working conditions. Then to understand the purpose of the company they work for, not just the vision. Not quite a lot of people working on that. A couple of hundred individual judgments. So the top answer quite strongly was feeling valued at work.
What is the most important question leaders should ask employees?
- What are the non-task related barriers to the job that you do?
- Is there a better way to do what we have asked you to do?
- Does this company waste money unnecessarily, and if so how?
- Is there anything we can do to make the job easier?
- How are we making you feel valued, or under-valued, what can we do better?
The squiggly line is the relative time taken to the time to think about any particular question. You normally get sort of a question mark shape because the second answer normally gives you as much trouble thinking it through as the first. Anything that is really easy to decide, or if the person holds that impression intuitively, or even if it’s a bias, or if someone has a hold on an opinion without even thinking about, it can be quite a negative thing. You get very low time values where people just jump to a particular answer.
What are the non-task related barriers to the job you do? Once again you can see a teacher speaking there. I’ve always taught in the city, and I’ve done the worst of the worst. Kids that will throw chairs at you and stuff like that. I’ve always worked in difficult schools, and I’ve never felt – and this is not me being a hero – I’ve never felt the children were my problem. It’s always the fabric around you – all the people that are supposed to be supporting you from the top.
For me, the most important question for leadership and management to be asking their employees is, “What are the problems to doing your job? Is there a better way to do what we’ve asked you to do? Does the company waste money?”
These are the sort of sensible questions coming down my list. Is there anything we can do to make the job easier? Probably relates to the top two. How are we making you feel valued, or undervalued? What can we do better? So my top answer is once again the barriers to doing the job properly. And that’s quite a strong difference between the next one, “Is there a better way to do what we’ve asked you to do?”
What is the most important question employees should ask leaders?
- When efficiencies are discussed, could these be discussed with staff too?
- Can we have the opportunity to discuss non-monetary benefits?
- Why is there a disparity between management and staff earnings?
I put down, “When efficiencies are considered, could these be discussed with staff too?” This response relates to a theme, which is the involvement of staff in terms of how we work and what we do. It’s a bit strange if you’ve never worked in schools. Twenty years ago, you’d go to a staff meeting, and it was normally an opportunity for a teacher to speak their mind – because they were regarded as the professionals. In a school as a teacher you were considered to be somebody quite important.
In this country, you were employed by what’s called the LEA. It’s like you were employed by the council as opposed to the specific school that you belonged to. So, you had the credibility of being almost like a doctor. But when we changed over to the new structure, you started to work for businesses, and you were no longer considered to be the professional in the room. You were considered to be a member of staff who was there to work, and your job was to try to avoid being sacked.
You can go into any state school in the UK now and the staff meetings they used to have have virtually disappeared. Now you go to a meeting at the end of the day and you’re given new tasks to do and new ways of working delivered in what’s called CPD (Continuous Professional Development). There’s no such thing. You are no longer treated as a professional. You’re no longer consulted about teaching or how the school should be run.
Regarding my response, “The opportunity to discuss non-monetary benefits.” I thought that was a quite interesting one coming out ahead because I was just thinking so often now we’re locked into hanging on to a job and being paid some money for it. Jobs where you might get non-monetary benefits like health insurance and things like that seem to be disappearing more and more.
Why is there a disparity between management and staff earnings? I didn’t vote that one even though I suggested it because once again in schools it’s completely and utterly irrelevant that the highest paid teacher in a school would normally be me or somebody like me as a classroom teacher. The next person in the pecking order would be a member of the school management, and they would probably earn upwards of twice what I earn. I’m not moaning about my salary, I’m just saying it’s a strange business in schools now where all the money is in the management of the school, not in the teaching.
What is the most important question we should ask ourselves?
- How does what I do effect others negatively, and is there something I can do about that?
- Is my humanity related to the well-being of others?
- Do I live to work, or work to live?
- Is job satisfaction a right, or just a potential?
- Where do my responsibilities to others end?
- Does anything I do fundamentally matter?
- Am I doing a good job, and justifying what I’m being paid?
If you’ve seen anything in my profile, you’ll know that I was eight years at the University of Oxford studying philosophy. When I started to brainstorm myself, I started to get a bit philosophical and had to jolt myself back into something relating to the context of what I thought the questions were. So, if you spot a mix here, I apologize. How does what I do affect others negatively, and could I do something about that? It would be nice to think of the positive ways that we work together, but I was thinking what do I do that hurts other people effectively in the way that we work? Can I change that? That was a big one for me.
Next, is my humanity related to the well-being of others? Although I’m a math teacher and teach philosophy as well, this is something I’ve always wanted pupils to ask themselves. Can you legitimately be a human being? is there such a thing as a single human or is a human only something that exists in relation to other people? Do I live to work or work to live? That’s quite interesting, from my particular authorship of this particular system, that’s a cliché, isn’t it?
Do I live to work, or work to live? And it’s such a cliché that I know the answer. You see there’s a time dip there because when it’s selecting anything in relation to that I very quickly deferred to one way or the other. Then back on to the straight and narrow of considering things more in terms of the proper correlation. The next one is, “Is job satisfaction a right or just a potential?” Do we have the right to it? I always thought reducing in my own mind down to a couple of stone age men or a couple of men living on an island with nothing and going out and fighting a wooly mammoth might be the job. It might not be a particularly enjoyable job. So even in modern society, I’m asking, “Do I have a right to job satisfaction or is it just a potential for some jobs?” Where do my responsibilities to others end? Does anything I do fundamentally matter? That was me being a little bit philosophical. I think it does by the way. And, “Am I doing a good job in justifying what I’m being paid for?” I didn’t score that one at all. It seemed like something, you know I might want to think, “Am I really doing a good job?” So when I brainstormed, it seemed like a good idea, but it didn’t rate higher than anything else I’d come up with. My top answer was, “How does what I do affect others negatively and could I do something about that?”
How do you see people or organizations using QIARK?
The way that Fintech people – and even smaller companies – are telling us that they will probably use it almost like a chat button. You can open up any question and have a solution to it in a few minutes. It doesn’t take any time to set up a question. If you’re in a workplace, ask as many questions as you like about what you’re doing.
The wonderful thing about innovations is I can tell you in a room of people, there will be some people who will talk and there will be some people who won’t talk. Now the people who don’t talk don’t necessarily have nothing to say, but with a system like this, it’s completely anonymous – or it can be. Everybody gets a chance to put their ideas in.
The system will reduce it down to one idea for consideration, but it will also remember all the people who came up with that idea. It’s a great way of crediting people for having an idea and encouraging them to share their voice. They get an opportunity to speak and shouldn’t wait around for other people to talk on their behalf.
Of course, when you come up with a solution, if everybody’s contributed to it, then they’ve all done the consideration and supported it in some way. The decision becomes partly what you created. If you extend all of those things in a small working place, you could extend them eventually – and this is one of our great missions – on a much larger scale. If we get people used to easily collaborating at speed, then we’re likely to collaborate more because we know collaboration works. And if we could do that in small ways in the workplace and extend it to bigger and bigger things, then we can do that in countries. We could also do that in collaboration between businesses across borders. And if we get used to the default collaboration of our lives being the people wherever they are, then we no longer see the borders as the collaboration of people that I normally deal with. From a visionary perspective, there’s plenty of places for a system like ours to go.