The Energy of Business
As I work with clients I get asked a lot what is the “Energetics” part of your business name and how does that apply to business? What clients are asking is what role energy plays in a business and the workplace. They are surprised when I explain how significant the role of energy is in a business.
Every business is more than its products, services, processes and systems. Modern business is typically centred around the human dynamics of the business and the emotional resonance that these people have within the business with each other, and outwards in their dealings with customers, suppliers and related third parties. In this space the principles of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Intelligence (IQ) all meet.
It may be a surprise that the success of many modern businesses will be dictated in part by which part of the brain the leadership and workplace culture operates from. Human beings are now understood by Neuroscience to operate from a triple segment brain system known as the Triune brain. You can refer to Energetics Institute article on The Triune Brain. Modern business success is increasingly being dictated by a person being able to operate between both the left side of their “front” Neo-cortex brain for their IQ, in union with their right side of the “front” Neo-Cortex brain, as well as their “middle” Limbic brain for their EQ. This is the world of intellect married with the domain of emotional and intuitive experience and reasoning.
The term “Conscious Business” is a related concept here. Many businesses are “unconscious” in the sense they have being operating for some time and have settled into a comfort zone where the business just takes care of itself. The leadership often at this point just shows up to collect a wage and over time the changes in business environments, competitors, innovation and technology, and customer experiences of the products or services become unacknowledged and overlooked.
A business that becomes successful can lose its success over time in the same way as it lapses into this form of unconscious business practice. Such a business may also lose touch with who they are as a business, forget their brand and its imperatives for business operation, and no longer understand their customers. The customer experience is left to chance. The business is now “unconscious” both of its past, its surrounds and environments, its customers, and its future. Some businesses are only semi-conscious as they do focus on some of these areas but neglect others.
Human beings relate primarily through our emotional selves and this is primarily done from our “emotional brain” which is the middle or Limbic brain system from where the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) primarily evolves. The emotional life of people in business is an energy that works towards or against the goals of the business and which gives “life” to the business, its brand and its culture. Emotions are an energy as the word emotion is a Greek word that when broken down equates roughly to “energy in motion” or “energy motion”.
A business founded on the old Industrial Era principles will tend to have a reliance on formal authority, power, rigid rules, structures and hierarchies as the “heart” of their business. Such businesses tend to devalue the emotional life of the people working in it and this is reflected in the workplace culture. Gareth Morgan in his book “Images of Organisation”, coined the term “psychic prisons” and “instruments of domination” to describe these bureaucratic dinosaurs and overly dehumanising businesses that rely on measurement, metrics, and processes while discounting the value of their people.
This type of organisation often reflects the type of personality in leadership and the management theory of the day. In the Industrial era most management and leadership theory came from the left sided, front brain Intelligence Quotient (IQ) based knowledge. This brain will produce logical, rational, black and white thinking outcomes. The most successful leaders then will reflect this way of seeing life and business and this personality type is best seen in the “Rigid Perfectionist” personality type.
Many organisations and businesses developed along these principles and so the logical, rational, rigid authority cultures were in ascent and became normalised as the aspired to model of business and “best practice”. Unfortunately from a human dynamics point of view the emotional life, the emotional view and value of the employees and customer experience was also devalued and suppressed or ignored.
In essence these types of businesses are also unconscious in as much as they miss or omit the importance of operating from the emotional/intuitive side of their human consciousness and the ways of doing business that embrace the energy of emotional intelligence and customer experience. A conscious business operates both in the domain of matter as well as the subtle domain of energy and its influence on relationships, products and brand awareness, customer experience and business culture. The business is self aware, flows and evolves via self adjusting to these dynamics when conscious.
The old mechanistic view was if you cannot see it or measure it then it doesn’t exist or it doesn’t matter because only black and white quantifiable measures are of concern. Statistics and reports were the “heart” of business which is really saying that our “heads” ruled the business without a heart. Many of these types of businesses are actually described by their employees as being heartless and soul destroying to work for.
It is no accident that this outcome was emotionally felt by employees and customers in their interactions with such “left brain” businesses. The Rigid Perfectionistic personalities rose to the top of such businesses in this era, and were naturally promoted to senior roles as their way of being naturally matched the ethos of “left brain” businesses. They as a personality had normally closed their own heart and had adopted a stance in life of living “in their heads” where they rejected emotional life as being threatening and “weak”, as they in their black and white world could only relate safely and with assuredness to logical, rational constructs.
Many of these businesses lose some of their best creative people who have innovative ideas and who see new opportunities and paradigms for the business. The black and white rationalistic mind and business model cannot operate in the “grey” area of creativity and non-absolutes, and so opportunities get missed, and creative and frustrated people did and continue to move on.
It is many of these motivated but disgruntled former employees who moved on and created a new wave of businesses which are now running past the Industrial era dinosaurs they once worked for. These new Information Era businesses are not locked into their rational, logic, black and white “heads” but naturally as people, as leaders, and as a business are unlocking the power of the right side of their frontal brain, plus are coupling this to the power of emotional experience and intuition that comes from the middle limbic brain. They of course still use their front left side part of their brain to provide necessary disciplines in business but now this is part of a “team” of brain power and is muted and under moderating influences of the other 2 brain processes.
When one opens up the other 2 brain centres one is now armed with a rich array of drives towards providing customer and employee experiences which are not directly measurable in the traditional way. Now you find that your business has an imperative to create emotionally resonating experiences at work between staff, suppliers and customers. Products and services become opportunities for emotionally rich and attractive forms, designs, and outcomes which create customer and brand loyalty. Suddenly the “bottom line” and the metrics are starting to look after themselves without constant scrutiny, anxiety and intervention.
Leadership focus shifts from the operational and metric focus and towards concept design, product and service excellence, imagining and envisioning opportunities, and embodying the business ethos through interaction, front line sampling and involvement, and relationships where power and status are irrelevant, but where emotional intelligence sharing of ideas, feelings and experiences drives possibilities for innovation, performance, and growth.
Such a business has harnessed the emotional “energy” of all who would touch and interact with their business. This energetic component is quickly realised as being truly the “heart” of business in this new world. The opportunities all lie in this rich swirl of ever moving emotional and creative energies that just require the discipline and ability to swim and flow with it, make sense of it, and translate that into business outcomes.
Einstein warned us that we only ever used at most 10% of our brains. I think he was observing the Industrial Era business man stuck in his isolated left front brain when he made this comment. The energy of business is not only a valid concept, it is a reality that business owners would be wise to consider in their own workplace. Earth has suffered one era of the great Dinosaur Extinction and I see another occurring as the old stale business models fail and collapse as these dinosaur businesses fail to adapt to the changing business environments.
My role in all this is to help the dinosaurs evolve before they die, and to accelerate and further the journey of those businesses already trying to become the exciting potential that they innately all hold through the rich emotional energies of their human capital and their customer experiences. I always approach and work with business from the starting point of their human dynamics and the paradigm of how they see and position their business accordingly.
Corporate Energetics is different to traditional Organisational Consulting and Business Coaching in this respect as a focus on measures and metrics is often the easy target and focus of such operators. In effect such consultants too are slaves to the logical, rational front brain era when they operate in this fashion and often can only improve what is a limited and often outdated way of seeing business.
Once I intervene in the human dynamics and there is a “brain shift” or what in psychology we call a gestalt or “ah ha” moment, then from a new consciousness we do revisit existing structures and measures to see whether they are really serving the business before we look at tuning them or working on business process to achieve some end with a target in mind.
My job is often to help the business owner, CEO, Leadership team, or area of a business embrace a new vision of business and learn how to invoke their Emotional Intelligence (EQ) potentialities. This is why Coaching, Emotional Intelligence and leadership training is needed, and teach how to get key people out of the heads and into their hearts.
From this place we can start to embody conscious business principles where everyone has a mind that constantly challenges and asks “Why are doing this?” or “Is this useful or taking us closer to our vision?”. It is often surprising for a business client to become conscious of who and what they are as a business, and what other opportunities exist out there they have been missing while operating from an old perspective which often had that limited front brain way of seeing the world and their business.
In my next newsletter I will further explore what are the implications of going from an unconscious way of doing business to a conscious operating business model and how the creative emotional energies then show up and can drive business excellence and success.
If your business could do with some brain surgery!! then contact us and lets discuss how we can assist you in your business evolution.
Leadership Matters – Tuning the Business
The concept of tuning is likely to be associated with your car or a musical instrument. Basically it involves recalibrating or tensioning the intended object to deliver optimal performance. One of the key roles of a leader is to be applying a form of creative tension to their business which fine tunes operations towards optimal performance.
How does this look and work? We live in an era of dynamic business environments and ever changing fads in society. Depending on the product or service your business offers there will be new entrants into your market segment over time who may bring innovation into the marketplace or who are looking to compete via price discounting, aggregated service bundling at incremental prices, or a number of creative marketing, branding or promotional experiences which get the attention of your customers.
The competent leader must look for and understand these new dynamics as they emerge and then bring those outside market pressures into the business so they are felt as creative tension by your workforce. When communicated in a positive way this can spur and motivate employees to engage their 3 brain potentialities (mentioned in the The Triune Brain above), and so they can start to think and act as challenged competitors who see themselves as winners.
Where the business culture has harnessed the desire to achieve as a motivating factor the leader can rouse the business from any complacency or “comfort zone” unconsciousness and expose the business to competitive pressures that inspire a winning response. Critically this calls firstly on the leadership to ask the perennial question of their business which is “Who is my primary customer ?”.
We must constantly ask this question in business for it will dictate how we allocate our human and physical resources, capital and focus of planning and execution of new ideas. If you get it wrong then you could go out of business. Get it right then you will meet the new challenge by invoking all possible creative capital, resources and action towards meeting and exceeding your primary customers needs.
This type of response which may lead to a re-implementation of existing products or services in a new way, or an adjustment to pricing, bundling or marketing, or even quitting a market in the face of new competition where your primary customer is not found, will strengthen your business. It tunes your business and evolves it is a creative and dynamic sense so you are in flow with the ever-changing face of the environments in which you do business.
This ongoing and dynamic process is an energetic process as it is vibrant and “in the moment”. It does not replace the need for strategic and operational planning disciplines but it informs this process and allows a business to take an accurate baseline at any stage from which to measure and draw assumptions from which to forward plan.
One way to break lethargy and the “group-think” of areas of the business not being able to “think outside the 9 dots”, or see their role in any other way is to create cross-unit teams and matrix accountability. In this concept we assign employees to another area of the operation as a form of “devil’s advocate”. This will put such people into meetings where they are not part of entrenched thinking and have full permission to challenge thinking, and put forward “stupid” questions.
What the evidence shows from such an approach is that the “outsider” can use the way in which our brain attempts to understand new or novel concepts to question assumptions, ideas, or norms in a way that exposes shortcomings or which highlights a new perspective in such a way that opens up opportunity for new creative outcomes. This has been shown to have led to novel product and service innovations, cost reductions, revitalisation and re-energising of other employees which in turn affects the whole group.
Not only this but the “outsider” then returns to their own work area with a whole new perspective and understanding which then allows them to bring that understanding into their own team. This is known as “cross-pollination” of ideas and just as in nature where bees pollinate flowers which leads to new flowering, in business it has been shown to create a flowering effect in terms of innovation and ideas and motivation.
This is a simple process to implement and what must happen is that the “outsider” also has accountability in their performance review for the resulting performance of the team or area they visit. This is important as otherwise the “outsider” may become a comfortable observer who does not challenge, add “what-if” thinking, or question and instead just lapses into an observer role.
The leader has the job of ushering in this innovative way of doing business. From there as the champion or sponsor of such an initiative they can monitor and measure the innovation or change and see how harnessing the creative potential of the employee base is a critical part of resource utilisation in their business.
Have a safe and productive month!!
Director, Corporate Energetics