Issue 01: the sources of energy
The first in our series, this issue sets the scene; it gives our definition of organisational energy, why it matters and why we need to get smarter at using it as a leading indicator of performance. Issue 01 includes chapters on: Where organisational energy is lost, the sources of organisational energy, and measuring organisation energy.
“97% of what really matters in an organisation does not get measured.” So said W Edwards Deming, the father of total quality management. Organisational energy, which is at the heart of an organisation’s success, is no longer an abstract concept. It can be measured and managed.
Why organisational energy matters
While organisational energy figures surprisingly little as a topic in the business pages, it preoccupies chief executives. They talk about creating a buzz in the company, lifting its vitality and agility, raising the pace, cutting through the undergrowth, making things happen. They know that speed to market can make the difference between triumph and disaster. They see that the boundary between strategy and execution is increasingly blurred. They are horribly aware of bureaucracy and internal politics as stiflers of drive and imagination. They admire companies such as BP, Southwest Airlines, IKEA and Nokia that seem to have discovered how to fully energise their people and direct that energy to results. City analysts increasingly refer to the leadership’s ability to energise the organisation when rating a company’s stock.
The adhesives company 3M, famous for Post-It Notes, was once chided that it had stumbled by accident across most of its new products. “Maybe we did,” replied the CEO, “which proves that we were moving”. Anyone who visited Asda’s headquarters in Leeds in the mid ’90s could see, hear, almost smell at the front door that it was a business on the move. Had they been shrewd enough to invest on the strength of their senses, they would now see a handsome return.
By contrast, anyone who has worked for low-energy companies has felt the lack of challenge, the lost opportunities, the waste of talent, the cynicism, frustration and acceptance of mediocrity they breed.