An Organisation in its simplest form, can be viewed as a collection of people who share a common belief and have got together to accomplish more of it together, than they could do individually. Thinking about an organisation as the sum of all these people and the energy they bring, both individually and more significantly when working effectively together, gives us access to better understanding and maximising that potential. How managers relate to, lead and manage the various energy sources in an organisation is often what makes the difference between creating a good business or creating a great business.
As we view an organisation through this perspective we then see that an organisation is simply a vast reservoir of potential energy ‘Pot’. And remember that every person in the organisation is in themselves a reservoir of potential energy. Just as every cell in the human body is important and indeed vital to the overall health and vitality of the body, so every individual person is important to the health and vitality of the corporate body.
It can often help to view the corporate body as a living, breathing entity comprised of all of the individual cells of dynamic energy that all need constant connecting, nurturing and support. The same laws of energy conservation can be applied to organisational energy, i.e. energy cannot be created or destroyed, only converted from one form to another or transferred from one object to another. The challenge of course is to convert as much as possible of this potential energy to fulfil on the organisation’s Why.
In order for an organisation to optimise its potential energy, four separate but related forms of energy must be channelled – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Getting clear on the Why, so that everyone is inspired and sourcing themselves from this powerful place (thinking, acting and communicating from the Why) is the highest source of energy for an organisation.
Other sources of potential energy are the motivation, capability, capacity and well-being of the people and of course how they work together. All of these aspects release potential energy (Pot) – however this is still only potential energy and is not the performance that you actually want or get. The challenge as a leader is to firstly maximise the potential energy and then channel it so that it is most effectively released in service of the company’s Why.
There are also many things in an organisation that are energy sapping, just like friction in a gearbox. These come in many shapes and forms, for example – unaligned expectations, ineffective communications, and structures, process and systems that don’t (or don’t appear to) enable the company’s Why – all these are a drag on the potential energy. We call these things Interference (I). So a simple way of representing this is the Performance (Perf) you actually get, is the Potential energy (Pot) you have minus the Interference (I).
Perf = Pot – I
Great leaders understand they are the stewards of organisational energy in the corporate body and are experts in mobilising and focusing all of the Potential energy in service of the organisation’s Why. They recognise that people choosing to think, act and communicate from the Why is the source of highest energy. In addition, they recognise that they need to reduce the energy sapping Interference, any ‘noise’ that occurs as a result of the many sources that distracts the individual cells from what they want to be spending the vast proportion of their energy on.
So, whether you are thinking about yourself, or an organisation, the above simple formulae can be used to determine the Performance you will get. Great leaders don’t focus on or trying to manage Performance directly, they consider it an output.
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