Human Energy, a primer…

One of the basic needs of any organization  engaged in doing work is energy. Of course, this energy is human as well as technological. The word “energy” applied to organizations comes from the original Greek ενέργειας, and is found in the work of the old philosophers Aristotle and Hereclitus to mean “at work.”

People thrive when there is there is something they can aspire to in their work, i.e. they understand and buy into the WHY of the organization.  Of course, the energy that is produced by such aspiration needs to be guided by clear goals and objectives to give the organization focus and direction.  It also needs to be positive and we at RANA talk about what a “positive field” can accomplish, that is, that overall feeling of accomplishment and well-being as people accomplish tasks collaboratively. So a “positive field” actually equals the “energy” of people “being at work” and contributing to a common goal. RANA thrives  when we get organizations excited over the positive destinations they create by learning and applying new ways of doing things. The organization gets “energized” and also learns how to energize itself. And this takes us inevitably to leadership and the need for leaders to provide energy to their organizations. They become the driving force for moving the organization forward, very much like moving an entire population from Heresville to Theresville. Even if it is some psychological and physical distance away…

Making changes on the margins of the organization’s activity hasn’t worked very well in the past and doesn’t really mobilize the energy of its people. A more fundamental transformation is required, i.e. changing the “form” of the organization to align it with why it is in business. Process alignment is how this is achieved. In a negative field, a great deal of work gets done to achieve very little. There is confusion, duplication, work arounds, and frustration in how operational activity is being carried out. This feels like a lack of trust, and it sucks the energy out of a workplace. In a positive field, the people of the organization energize their work: the tools that were used to control them are now the processes for which they are fully accountable. They get to make the decisions on how to best achieve the purpose of the organization at the operational level. Imagine the different kind of leadership you need for such an organization: far from the controlling, detail-oriented workaholic manager of yore, you now have a leader that has confidence in the capacity of the people of the organization to do the job and to do it well. This propels the organization and its people forward towards the success they are hoping for.

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