Alignment: First, energy has to do with alignment. Energy is generated and flows when there is alignment among the particles, components or participants in a system. We see this occurring dramatically in the formation of waves (be they oceanic waves or the waves formed by people standing up in a sports arena). We also see energy being generated when there is a shared focus in an organization. Many contemporary organizational theorists describe the power of alignment and indicate that the power inherent in transformational leadership is based in large part on the capacity of the leader to bring members of her organization to a shared focus regarding the mission and purposes of the organization. While this alignment can be a highly productive feature in an organization and in its leaders, it usually is based in, finds energy in and is reinforced by patterns of behavior manifest in the leader and in all subsystems of the organization. This source of energy in the patterns is welcomed if the alignment is positive, growth-producing and humane. It is not welcomed when the alignment is negative, destructive and inhumane—we need only remember the Nazi rallies in Nuremburg to remind us of the horrible energy generated by malicious alignment.
Conversion: Energy often is generated when one energy source is converted to another form of energy. In physics this relates to the second law of thermal dynamics. In the long history of our earth, this is the ultimate conversion of sunlight (via photosynthesis) into source of nutrition (biological energy) that sustains planetary life. In the life of our clients and the organizations our clients lead, this conversation takes place in a variety of ways which are often quite subtle. At one level, the conversion is from words (written or spoken) to actions. This conversion is truly remarkable, given that words consume little physical energy, whereas actions being taken based on the inspirational or directive nature of words often consume a great amount of energy. Often it doesn’t even take words to convert intentions to actions—there need only be the expectations (unexpressed words) of specific actions for the conversion to occur. Patterns create expectations and expectations create repetitive actions which, in turn, reinforce patterns. We end up with a positive feedback loop through which expectations generate actions which generate even more deeply rooted expectations which lead to even more strongly engaged actions.
Differentiation: there is something more that we know about the source and flow of energy in our physical world. There are energy gradients all over the place. We are all aware of the differing energy gradients associated with the weather system. We have low pressure and high pressure areas and air tends to move (as wind) from high to low pressure regions. More generally, we find the movement of energy from higher to lower, from stronger to weaker, and from more complex to less complex. From one perspective we can state that our universe contains a certain amount of energy that has always been there from the moment of the big bang. From this perspective, all we have is the movement of energy that already exists or (as I noted in the previous section) the transformation of energy from one form (e.g. heat) to another form (e.g. motion).Download Article 1K Club