Energy Flows Where the Attention Goes*
What Performance, Relationship, Innovation and Values have in common is that each is an arena for enhancing, focusing, or suppressing peoples’ energy. It follows that the projects with the most available energy are far more likely to succeed.
Good ideas and the force of will are not enough.
Consider the following examples.
TOO MUCH ATTENTION TO PERFORMANCE AND MEASUREMENT
“The king is in the counting house, counting all his money”
A large southern United States utility company has a captive market; it also benefits from state-regulated prices, depreciation concessions and a stable workforce. With an assured income stream, the utility makes make money hand over fist by managing costs and operations with great integrity.
While the senior management proclaims enduring commitment to the well being of its people and the importance of cooperation, their hierarchical and cross-function relationships are generally shallow and sterile. Few believe that the company cares about them or that the stated values are worth the paper they are printed on. There are, of course, exceptions to this in a few cases where strong loyalties have developed.
Doing well by keeping their word financially, they have never successfully implemented system wide change in information technology, human resources or quality. Innovation is rare. Morale is poor at the same time that everyone puts on a happy public face. When it comes to costs and operations, energy is relatively high. When it comes to Relationship, Innovation and Values, their energy and integrity is low. Through the lack of innovation and lack of cooperation across functions, growth has stagnated. The stock price has been level for years and the utility is now a candidate for takeover. They pay attention to costs and operations and don’t pay attention to people, real thinking and principles. A fraction of the company’s available energy is realized.
TOO MUCH RELATIONSHIP
“All we need is love…”
I participated in a non profit organization fir several years. Not much got done because people were so busy relating to one another. E-mail had little substance and seemed to be sent just so people could be connected. Always on the edge of bankruptcy, programs were poorly attended and written communications were sent at the wrong time and usually contained factual errors.
Relationship Energy was high although it was defined in interpersonal and not work terms. People listened and spoke from their hearts. In times of personal crisis they were nurturing. Meetings were a safe haven. Over time, only people with a very high regard for quality of relationship continued to participate. There was little innovation and inquiry beyond the area of improving relationships.
Values were respected but again, only principles regarding the quality of relationship could be addressed with conviction. People were sincere and uncommitted with respect to performance and results. Expert in relationship, they were not able to see the world through the integrity lenses of measurement and performance.