News Flash! Organizational Energy Is A Finite Commodity...
Are you a Zero-Sum Game Thinker?
Most people say they are "Win-Win" thinkers. They would agree that, if we try, we can generally find ways to "make the pie bigger", mitigating the need to have a few winners and many more losers. This is generally true and represents a very useful way to approach many of our organizational problems - from abundance rather than scarcity... That said, there is one critically important area where this is not true and where "Zero-Sum" thinking must be applied.
The total amount of energy any organization has to expend is finite and that energy must be allocated wisely to achieve the outcomes which are its raison d'être...
"These go to eleven..."
You might remember the scene in "This is Spinal Tap" where Nigel is explaining how they get extra amplification out of their sound system - by adding a setting at 11. His explanation is hilarious in the movie because it is so absurd but we often think something similar in our business life... Some people are more productive than others but there are exactly 24 hours in a day. Your most productive staff member(s) can not become even more productive by adding a 25th hour to the day, and you are being a Nigel Tufnel if you think it can happen. I would wager you have participated in too many meetings where the topic was "how can we get more energy out of our existing situation"? We don't want to (or cannot) hire more people, we cannot (or should not) reduce the resources we are using to make our product or deliver our service - but we definitely need more energy!
We need more energy to meet our existing commitments. We need more energy to face the challenges our marketplace or competitors are bringing us. And what are we going to do with the opportunities we see? Where will we find the energy and resources needed to seize them before someone else does? If the energy in our enterprise is truly finite, what can be done to address the fact that we are running out of energy before we can spend it on growth and opportunity?
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