The key to success is to maximize energy contribution while minimizing the loss of energy as it flows through the system on its way to becoming valued goods and services. But the model is not complete if we think of the flow of energy as just one frequency.
Like light passing through a prism the energy flowing through The Living Organization™ has a number of different wavelengths. If we look at the model in a three dimensional view as if we were looking at light through a prism we will can observe three distinct energy waves or frequencies – Activity, Relationship and Context.
Activity is the energy of doing. It covers both the “what and how” of the work to be done. This energy has the characteristics of linear, cause and effect relationships. The information it provides is processed analytically. It is the domain of the left brain and uses physical intelligence or IQ.
Relationship is of the energy of interactions. It covers the “who” we do the activity with. Its dominant characteristic is seen in communications and is experienced in terms of empathy and patterns. The information is processed by the right brain and we call on emotional intelligence or EQ to process this information.
Context is the energy of meaning and purpose. It is the “why” of what we. Its dominant characteristic is experienced as culture and values. It is experienced as holistic knowing or intuition. It is a connective energy as it connects to information from other entities through their context energy field. It is processed by the heart-brain and calls on the spiritual intelligence of individuals or SQ in order to process the information coming to us form this field of energy.
Activity is what we can observe and measure. It is the field of energy that is most easily processed through the human senses. It is in the Activity field where potential energy becomes converted into kinetic energy and transforms into goods and services.
Since it is the field that is easiest to measure we tend to think of it as the most significant energy field. It is certainly the one most traditional theories of business has focused on. And while it is certainly a critical part of the overall flow of energy it is by no means the only one or the most significant one.
Relationship is the energy that emanates from the interaction of two energy sources. When we work with someone we are in conflict with, we tend to guard and withhold some portion of our energy. And when we are in a positive relationship with our co-workers we tend to feel more energized and desire to contribute more.
There is also the effect of synergistic flow of energy that further adds to the total energy flowing through the system. When two energy waves are in synch their energy levels are additive, they are amplified. When they are out of synch, in physics this is called being out of phase, their energy is attenuated, or diminished.
When we speak of teamwork we are, in essence, discussing ways to create maximum amplification of energy from individuals creating synergy, the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
Context is the field of energy I suspect will be the most difficult for people to understand, especially in the arena of business. I believe everyone has, within their life experiences awareness and an understanding of this field of energy. It is the place within us that carries our deeper values, meaning and purpose. It is the source of our passions and our loves.
We have been reading more and more of late about such issues as vision, values, mission, and culture. We know that intuition plays an important role in decision making. We strive to stimulate creativity within our organizations. All of these lie within the domain of the Context layer. As does such elements of our model as Experience and Soulful Purpose.
Over the last few decades we have come to understand the importance of issues like culture, creativity and intuition but we really do not understand much about them or their nature. At best it is left as that “squishy stuff” and we return to what we know best, what we do and how we do it (Activity).
When we do attempt to address these issues we often do so by defining activities like a visioning exercise or creativity sessions. This unfortunately relegates them to only intellectual understanding and thus loses much of the energy that emanates from the Context field.
While there is a great deal of information about what to do and how to do it (Activity), and an equal amount on teamwork, psychology of interactions etc. (Relationship), there is little within the traditional sources of information for business about the Context energy field.
There is however a rich body of knowledge about this field of energy that we can draw on as leaders of our organizations. It lies within the psychology of Cal Jung. Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and others. We can find it in the writings of some of the greatest poets and philosophers. And we can find it in the literature of the great religions of the world. And yes even in the movies such as Star Wars. The Context field is the field of the Collective Unconscious, the domain of The Force, and the world of The Divine (however you choose to define that).
And while this energy field is the least understood by business leaders it is the one that will have the most impact on the long term performance of your company. It is the layer that forms the context for everything that is and is not done within your organization. This context will drive all behaviors which in turn reflect in the relationships we have and in the end impacts what is and is not accomplished.
When we speak about “the spirit” of the organization it is the energy that flows from the context field, an energy that cannot be seen but is always experienced, that we are referring to.