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.
Greg Baker, on November 26, 2019
We find ourselves at the dawn of a new era in business when managing, transforming and preparing our companies, agencies and schools for the future of work is both urgent and essential. And, frankly, this preparation is hitting some serious speed bumps. Business is up against the stops and our traditional management practices aren’t getting us there.
Unlocking the hidden power of energy is a new approach that gives us the understanding we haven’t had and the wherewithal to move beyond the speed bumps. It’s based on a fundamental premise: If you want to achieve success in the marketplace, manage the internal energy of your business. This isn’t the kind of energy that runs your car or keeps the lights on. It’s the energy that permeates everything happening in your business. It works within a system, and if you learn to read the indicators of energy within the context of that system, you will have the insight and information to know why some things work and others don’t. You will have the tools to truly transform your business. Ultimately, you will have an advantage as you prepare your business and the people in it for the future of work.