In physics the more energy you have, the more power you are capable of generating. At work, if you want more power to accomplish things, find more energy and learn how to use it. That’s the key to unlocking the hidden power of energy in business.
Going a little deeper, your business is a system that runs on energy. The system involves both people and things, all of which affect the energy that flows from them, and through them. Whatever your role in the business might be, you can learn to unlock wasted energy and put it to good use in accomplishing your goals. You just need to understand the system, how energy works in business, and how to see and use the dynamics of energy.
It’s really not that complicated. Yet it is probably one of the most powerful things you will ever do to boost your abilities, your career, and your company’s performance. You probably already do some of this naturally and intuitively, but by learning the tools of managing energy in business you will acquire a systematic approach for doing virtually everything better. We call this the Energy Equation. You can read all about it in my new book.
For many years I’ve been on a journey to discover how energy works in business, and to develop the language and discipline of energy management. As I experienced that journey I was struck by many discoveries. Here are three of my more significant discoveries.
When I see many of the things companies do to “improve”, I often feel like I’m standing on the side of the road waving my arms shouting at a texting truck driver who is about to slam into a big pile of stalled traffic. Why?
Because when it comes to most business improvements, the things we see are but a fraction of the story. And, unfortunately, the actions we take to affect what we see, which are usually symptoms of larger dynamics, often don’t affect the organization in the ways we intend. Worse yet, they can do more harm than good. In short, we know not what we do in organizations.
I say this with considerable compassion because most managers I know work hard to do the right thing. Yet managers are typically driven by traditional management norms and methods that no longer work in today’s complex business environment. Consequently, they often end up with failed change initiatives, and don’t really understand why they failed.
You may be aware of the serious business challenges GE is experiencing and the well storied decline of this industrial icon over the past several years. How could this happen at GE? And what really happened at GE? It’s not what most people think. There is the party line, and then there is a deeper, more revealing view.
By most accounts there was a long string of financial missteps that eroded profits, shareholder value and the stock price. “For example, from 2010 through 2014, when oil prices hovered around $100 a barrel, GE bought at least nine businesses in the oil and gas industry. Then, in 2016, with prices down by half, it agreed to combine its oil and gas unit with Baker Hughes…” Stock prices for the new unit, of which GE was the major shareholder, fell and never recovered. This stoked GE’s reputation as a company that bought high and sold low.
In this article I ask some important questions. Is the world changing and demanding more from businesses faster than they can evolve to meet those demands? On our current path, are we headed for some kind of extinction event that will rock the business world as well as life on earth? Could your business become extinct? If so, how can we avoid that catastrophe?
I’m actually more of an optimist than a doomsdayer. However, I think we would be remiss if we didn’t ask these questions. Let’s start with a look at evolution and how it applies to business.
According to Biologists, the extinction of plants and animals tends to come in clusters, which they have named extinction periods. I imagine these periods to be something like stock market corrections. Pressures add up and something has to give. On earth we’re in the sixth extinction period called the Holocene extinction. Unlike the previous periods, this event is attributed largely to human activity on the planet. At an alarming rate, many plant and animal species are not keeping pace with the dramatic changes on earth caused by our human existence. Could the path of business be reflecting this planetary trend?
Greg Baker, on November 26, 2019
In my last article I wrote about the urgency of preparing our companies, agencies and schools for the future of work, and the business trends contributing to our generally unsatisfactory progress. My assertion was, and is, that in this new era the best way to advance the way we work is to manage the energy of our businesses. Doing so gives us the clarity to understand how things work, what gets in the way, and what it takes to more consistently achieve good outcomes and financial results. This article is an introduction to how Enterprise Energy works.
Enterprise Energy is a very real thing. In the world of physics, energy is defined as the capacity of a physical system to perform work. That definition carries easily into the world of business. In this world, the “physical system” is a company, agency or educational institution. Its level of energy, which is determined by the success of its collective work streams, determines its current capacity to perform work. To optimize capacity during any given time period, the trick is to generate more energy than you use in the performance of the work. For any business, the greater the net gain in energy, the more successful it will be.