Q: As an entrepreneur, what questions should I be asking myself?

An entrepreneur wears many hats that change during various stages of the venture but these three questions that are always relevant:

1) Where are your energy drains?
2) What does the environment need now?
3) What are you inspired to do next?

Now I get that these questions may seem strange at first so let me explain why they’re actually really sound questions that lead you to focus on the right things, at the right time, and create breakthroughs.

1) Where are your energy drains?
Energy drains are a symptom of entropy, dissolution, decay in the system. By paying attention to the drains, and eliminating them, it frees up additional energy for you to kick-ass out in the world. If you don’t eliminiate the drains, they will steal from your top-line performance.

For example, notice that if you’re back is hurting that you’re less effective at work. Or, notice that if you and you’re co-founder no longer trust and respect one another that top-line business growth suffers. Why is this? It’s because energy flows from inside-out. At any given point in time, a system has a finite amount of energy. It must use this available energy to maintain itself, make decisions, and get work done. Only after those internal needs are met, and if energy is left over, can the system go forward into the marketplace and find, sell and service customers.

When you ask the question, “where are your energy drains?” begin with you and go from the inside out. How’s your physical health? Your mental and emotional state? Are you waking up thinking about something that’s troubling? If so, you better address it. How’s your primary love relationship? Any friction or drains there? What about your relationship with your management team? Board? Key accounts? Etc. Scan and look for drains in order to free up lost energy to be put towards execution and expansion. Ignore the drains at your peril. They steal from overall success.

2) What does the environment need now?
Charles Darwin laid out the key to business success 250 years ago. (No, it’s not “survival of the fittest”). It’s adapt or perish. By forcing yourself to get out of your own head, desires, and the way you want things to be, and looking objectively at what’s really happening around you now, it allows you to focus on the most important things: producing positive and desired results for your customers now and over time.

For example, how well are you meeting customer needs now? Are you well prepared to meet them tomorrow? What changes are happening in the marketplace that will change the environment? Are you piloting, nailing, and scaling in accord with market demand and your ability to execute? (If not, you’re in a strategic folly).

Many entrepreneurs get so […]

By |2021-05-18T02:30:28-07:00July 7th, 2012|Articles|Comments Off on Q: As an entrepreneur, what questions should I be asking myself?

Q: How can I assess if my potential new hires are good at “getting things done?”

A better way to ask this question would be, “What are effective ways to assess if someone is good at ‘getting things done’ and at what cost?”

By “cost” I mean this: If you’re looking to hire someone with a high drive to get things accomplished, then you also need to know the cost of that drive. What kind of cost? It will show up in one of three areas. You can get a sense of which area(s) by asking yourself this question:

“If this person has a high drive to produce results (Producing force), then does he or she also…

1) Overlook the details, order, and structure in getting things done (Stabilizing force)? That is, is the work accomplished but filled with errors and sloppiness? It’s hard to get it done fast and at the same time, get it done right.

2) Overlook the creative opportunities in getting things done (Innovating force)? There’s a difference between lazy and entrepreneurial lazy. It’s hard to be both heads down cranking things out and heads up, looking around for the breakthrough idea at the same time.

3) Overlook the implications to the rest of the team (Unifying force) in getting things done. Are you hiring someone who works so hard to get it done that they can’t relate to or coordinate well with others on the rest of the team?

Everything has a cost. Your job in making the right new hire is to understand what style you need for the job function and to maximize the gains and mitigate the costs of that style. There is no superman or superhire that can be all things at all times. So just be aware of the cost in what you’re hiring upfront and design around it.

Now when it comes to interviewing someone for high drive, it’s pretty easy to do. I’ll explain it below but you’ll get an immediate sense of it using this free 15 second style assessment.

1) Does this person tend to think, speak, and act more quickly or more methodically? What you’ll notice is that people with higher drive tend to lean towards being more quick, fast, and to the point in their thoughts, words, and actions.

2) Does this person tend to focus on getting things accomplished or creating new ideas? What you’ll notice is that people with a higher drive to execute on the work at hand focus their energies there more than finding creative ideas. Those who tend to prefer to find creative new ideas can absolutely show great bursts of productivity but can quickly get bored with the status quo.

Other characteristics of a person with a high drive to produce results include the fact that they take a linear and structured approach to problem solving, they focus on the short […]

By |2021-05-18T02:30:55-07:00July 7th, 2012|Articles|Comments Off on Q: How can I assess if my potential new hires are good at “getting things done?”

Q: Why is HR still not a strategic partner?

There’s an article in Harvard Business Review this week, “Why HR Still Isn’t a Strategic Partner.” In it, the author laments that most corporations are asking themselves why they even have an HR department and as a solution, encourages HR leaders to ask a simple question: “do my actions cause friction in the business or do they create flow?” Then act accordingly. It’s trite advice and it misses the core issue entirely. In fact, there are really two major reasons HR is marching towards irrelevancy and it has nothing to do with intentions…

The two major reasons HR is marching towards irrelevancy:

#1. HR is a loaded word that lacks a clear cultural definition. (If you do read Craig’s article, make sure to read the comments from other HR professionals to get a sense of the confusion). Is the function of HR to perform recruiting? Career development? Hiring and firing? Prevent the company from getting sued? team performance improvements? It’s like arguing about capitalism versus socialism without understanding what each word really means. Yes, a lot of opinions get thrown about but no real progress gets made until there’s clear and mutually understood definitions.

#2. Because of a clear lack of definition, HR is usually structurally misplaced in an organization and therefore doesn’t deserve a seat at the table with functions that are driving the business forward. Why would functions like sales or marketing or strategy ever want those lowly HR peons, well-versed in arcane employment law and specializing in telling the company what not to do, mucking up their meetings? Can’t blame them.

Here’s how to solve the HR problem:

Within your organization, NEVER, EVER co-join the short range efficiency and liability prevention functions of HR (things like following employment law, dotting i’s and crossing t’s, and handling the actual process of hiring and firing and benefits administration, etc..) with the long range effectiveness functions of HR (things like recruiting, skills development, career development, etc.) as one function. Period. Stop. If you do this, I’d personally track you down and shoot you but your organization is already so messed up that I won’t have to.

Instead, place the short range efficiency and liability functions (I’ll call them Admin HR) under the Admin function of your organization and place the long range effectiveness functions (I’ll call them People Dev HR) under the Strategy function of your organization.

(BTW: You can outsource the Admin HR function entirely but the People Dev HR function must be overseen by the CEO directly with the support of other senior leaders and can be supported by third-party specialists in people development and team performance.)

This is a rich topic of discussion and if you’d like to learn more, read Chapter 18 in Organizational Physics – The Science of Growing a […]

By |2021-05-18T02:31:28-07:00July 7th, 2012|Articles|Comments Off on Q: Why is HR still not a strategic partner?

Q: How is Change Management Different in Large Organizations Compared to SMEs?

Mehdi Arfaoui, a student at IESEG School of Management in Paris, France, asked me a question via Quora recently, “How is Change Management Different in Large Organizations Compared to SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises)?” Here’s what you need to know.

The principles of change management are the same regardless of how ‘big’ or ‘small’ an organization may appear to be. The answer lies in understanding Isaac Newton’s laws of motion.

All organizations have mass. Mass has little to do with the number of people or departments in an organization. It has everything to do with where the authority, power, and influence reside within the organization and how much resistance to change exists.

Even a gargantuan organization, like the United States, can move incredibly quickly when the mass is coalesced. Just remember 9/11 and the Patriot Act. But even a two person organization, like a bad marriage, can move incrediblly slowly, resisting any change that appears to benefit one partner at the expense of another.

When it comes to change management, don’t think ‘small’ or ‘large’ organization. Instead think in terms of inertia and what must first be done to gather in the organizational mass in order to enact a change.

Mr. Arafoui went on to ask, “So, according to you, we couldn’t say that there are existing differences in the management of changes between MNCs or SMEs for example? Because change will anyways be determined by the company’s culture and resistance?”

There are obviously some more complexities to managing multi-national’s (MNCs) but the fundamentals of enacting a change are the same, regardless of size.

So how do you manage the greater the complexities in an MNC? Every successful complex adaptive system uses a common framework, language, and sequence to operate. This framework, language, and sequence must also adapt to changes in the environment.

For example, a colony of ants can change tactics and directions amazingly fast because the colony shares a common way of sensing the world (framework), enabled by a common way of communicating (language), and a series of steps to take when presented with an opportunity-threat (sequence). If the colony is going to be successful over time, then it must also be able to adapt this framework, language, and sequence as the environment changes. If not, it will perish.

The complexities in managing MNC’s emerge when the organization lacks a common framework, language, and sequence, or it ceases to adapt them to changing times. In my company Organizational Physics, one of the first things we do when working with a new company is to teach a common framework, language, and sequence to follow to enact a change. That’s not new. Every organizational development company in the world does the same. What’s unique about our approach is that we use a universally applicable framework, […]

By |2021-05-18T02:40:29-07:00July 6th, 2012|Articles|Comments Off on Q: How is Change Management Different in Large Organizations Compared to SMEs?

Forbes Book Review

Venture capitalist and renowned blogger John Greathouse reviewed my new book Organizational Physics – The Science of Growing a Business on Forbes.

Lex’s new book, Organizational Physics, is compelling, as it applies the fundamental laws of physics to the world of business. By viewing companies through this prism, one can diagnose organizational problems and identify corresponding solutions, irrespective of a company’s size, the markets it serves or even the personalities of its senior executives – which makes the book a powerful toolkit for business leaders.

Read the review.

By |2021-05-18T05:55:53-07:00July 6th, 2012|Articles|Comments Off on Forbes Book Review

Virtual Book Tour

Join Lex for a virtual book tour of Organizational Physics – The Science of Growing a Business.

During this 50 minute call, Lex will talk about the key concepts of his pre-release book (get a copy here), how to apply them, and answer your questions.

Space is limited to the first 25 callers. Copy and paste the phone number and code into your calendar.

Date: Wed, June 13
Time: 7am PDT / 10am EDT
Dial: 1-218-936-4141
Code: 122286

Join in, ask questions, get inspired. I hope to hear from you on the call. Thanks!

By |2021-05-18T02:41:19-07:00June 4th, 2012|Articles|Comments Off on Virtual Book Tour

Are You Giving More Than You Get in Return?

The notion of getting more energy than you give from your key relationships can be a hard one for successful, driven people to embrace. It’s especially hard for entrepreneurs in the heat of battle to even fathom. How will a company that’s cost so much blood, sweat, tears, and capital ever pay back more than its cost? But making this shift from energy-costing to energy-adding is not only the key to greater happiness, it’s also the key to successfully scaling a business. Let me share a story to explain why.

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a thirty-something entrepreneur and CEO. He runs a medical device company with revenues of about $10M. As we got talking, I learned a little about his history. He had started the business six years prior and fought through incredible challenges and turmoil surrounding his team, the market, and the investors. Like many entrepreneurs, he is in significant debt and double mortgaged on his home because every spare penny goes to the business.

Like every good entrepreneur and CEO, he was incredibly determined and willing to fight it out to make things work. But I could also tell that he was feeling worn down, beaten up, and resentful from the constant grind. His plan was to raise some more capital, get the company to profitability, and sell it off to a strategic acquirer. Then he could “take some time off, rebuild my marriage, and figure out what I want to do next,” he said.

Even though I knew he didn’t have the answer yet, I asked him, “Imagine you do sell the company. What do you think you’ll do next?” “I know I should know this,” he replied, “but I haven’t got a clue. Something where I can start fresh and this time . . . do things the right way.” “OK,” I said, “I get that. But let me ask you another question. If you were able to run your current company, extract yourself from the things that cost you energy, and spend 80 percent of the time doing things that you love to do and are good at, would you still sell the business?”

“I’m not sure,” he said. “On the one hand, I’d really enjoy doing that kind of strategic business development. I know that I’m at a point where I need to be working on the business rather than in it, but I just haven’t been able to make the leap. On the other hand, my wife hates how much I work. She’s terrified of how much equity we have tied up in the business. She wants less risk, not more. The current board is a pain in the ass to manage. It’s like herding cats […]

By |2021-05-18T02:43:55-07:00May 22nd, 2012|Articles|Comments Off on Are You Giving More Than You Get in Return?

Draw Me a Picture

When I was growing up, my grandfather used to tell me: “The key to communicating a new idea is to kiss your audience. Do you know what kiss means?” “Ah, no Gramps, I don’t think so and I’m sure you’re going to tell me anyway, so what does it mean?” “It means ‘Keep It Simple Stupid.'”

Grandpa was right but he didn’t go far enough. If I had to respond to him today, I would tell him the secret is “MAPS: Make a Picture Stupid” instead. This is because I’ve realized that, when trying to communicate and get buy-in for a new idea, it’s not enough to keep things simple. You can actually accomplish much more – and more quickly – by using concept maps, or visual representations of your idea. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you can’t describe your new idea in one elegant picture, you haven’t thought it through well enough. You need to go back – literally – to the “drawing board.”

We live in a world of extraordinary complexity and noise – and the things that capture our attention tend to be the most iconic. In other words, it’s the memorable visual representations that stick with us the most. The data also shows that most of us are visual learners and thinkers. By translating complex concepts into simpler images and mind maps, we allow others to better grasp and conceptualize – as well as remember – them. Using images also allow us to bridge any gaps in background, context, vision, and values between us and those around us. It’s not surprising that the proverbial picture is thought to be worth a thousand words.

In the workplace, we’ve all suffered through ineffectively lengthy meetings, the ramblings of long-winded colleagues, and the obscurity of convoluted presentations. I know I’ve been in meetings where one string of “blah blah blahs” followed the next, leading to no real clarity. Often what makes these meetings so bad is that people are not operating with a shared concept, terms, and context. A good picture can establish all three of those things very quickly.

We know this intuitively. That’s why we have white boards in our meeting rooms. Duh! But the point I want to make is that the white board (or picture-making capability) isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Use it and start there. Begin with the picture. Then have the discussion. For example, if you’re out raising capital, make the first slide in your deck a picture of your business model. If you’re trying to win a new account, lead with a picture of your understanding of the client’s problem and how you can fix it. If you’re working to secure votes for political change, start with […]

By |2021-05-18T02:48:06-07:00May 21st, 2012|Articles|Comments Off on Draw Me a Picture

Purpose, Meaning, and Money: How to Have All Three

If you’re like me, the journey to finding alignment between expressing a meaningful life purpose and growing a business has been arduous. On the one hand, you crave that deeper sense of meaning and contribution that comes from living your life on purpose. On the other, you need to make a living, support your family, and pay the mortgage – not to mention your desire for financial and time freedom. Too often these things seem diametrically opposed.

So how do you do it? How do you live your life guided by a deep sense of purpose and, at the same time, have a meaningful and prosperous career? Although it took me years to find the answer, I ultimately realized how anyone can find that alignment. In this article, I’m going to show you how. But first, I need to debunk an all too common myth about money.

Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow? Not Even Close

“If you do what you love, then the money will follow.” I know you’ve heard that one before. Is it true? Nope. I admit that it sounds great. I know it sells a lot of books and tapes. But you’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you think that doing what you love will bring in the dough.

So what is the secret to financial prosperity? The answer lies in how you answer three simple questions:

  1. Do you operate in a large and growing market opportunity?
  2. Does this market perceive that you have unique capabilities that it desperately needs?
  3. Do you meet those needs efficiently and in a repeatable manner?

Financial prosperity is pretty simple. If you can answer “yes” to all three questions above, then your business is financially successful. If not, then your business is struggling financially, and it will continue to struggle, until you can.

Why do your answers to these three questions determine your financial prosperity? As I share in lifecycle strategy, these are related because the goal of any strategy is to efficiently acquire new energy (e.g. money, resources, clout) from the surrounding environment, now and in the future.

To get new energy, an organization must develop and integrate its capabilities with opportunities in the marketplace. If you’ve completed the business purpose exercise earlier in this series, then you already have you a good sense of what your unique capabilities are. In addition, the business execution guide will show you how to operate efficiently and adapt to market changes. What remains is the market opportunity itself and it’s a critical piece in creating purpose, meaning, and money in your life and work. Let’s see how it all comes together.

The Sweet Spot

By |2021-05-18T04:54:27-07:00May 18th, 2012|Articles|Comments Off on Purpose, Meaning, and Money: How to Have All Three

The 6 Laws of Organizational Physics

The following is an excerpt from Organizational Physics – The Science of Growing a Business.

If you’re a growth-oriented CEO, entrepreneur, or department manager, then you’re naturally under pressure to lead your business to greater levels of performance. You also need to do this in a fast-moving, turbulent, evolving marketplace. A lot is riding on your judgment and leadership and there’s little room for error. There’s time pressure, money pressure, market pressure—not to mention work/life balance pressure—that can all add to the difficulty of achieving success.

Complicating matters is that there are never enough time and energy available to accomplish everything that needs to get done. Using limited resources, you must drive success, build powerhouse teams, set the right priorities, and execute fast. And because the right plan is only as good as your team’s commitment to implementing it, you have to ensure constant buy-in and continually lower any friction that gets in the way.

That’s a tall order. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit there are countless times when you’re feeling stressed, doubtful, unclear, or simply stuck. Sometimes your job can feel so thrilling, you can’t imagine doing anything else. Other times it feels so frustrating that you want to quit, move to Tahiti, and take up painting. All in all, you’ve chosen a career path filled with adventure, danger, excitement, and the opportunity to manage one mini-crisis after another.

As a wise leader, you have learned to trust in your own experience. But you also keep an eye and ear open for valuable insights and perspectives. In this regard, there are countless management theories and organizational practices that you can choose from. There are top-down, bottom-up, agile-iterative, data-driven, design-first, customer-oriented, outcome-based, decentralized, centralized, democratic, autocratic, process-driven, lifecycle-stages, and X-Y-Z management theories. If you ask a dozen entrepreneurs, CEOs, and management experts which is the best model, you’ll hear as many different answers.

When you’re faced with a myriad of challenges, opportunities, constraints, and choices, how can you decisively lead your organization where you want it to go? When can you trust your past experience and when does it cast blinders on your ability to see clearly? What’s the right approach for your particular situation? How do you maximize your organization’s performance and your personal satisfaction, now and in the future?

The answer, as with all things, is to first understand what’s really going on. For example, a good doctor understands how the body really functions. Rather than focusing on symptoms, s/he will work to understand the systemic causes of a disease. Similarly, if you understand how your business and team really work beneath the surface, you can get at the underlying causes of what’s making them fail or succeed.

The purpose of Organizational Physics is to do just that—to explain […]

By |2021-05-18T04:54:55-07:00April 30th, 2012|Articles|Comments Off on The 6 Laws of Organizational Physics

Don’t Start the Hiring Process Until You’re Clear on This One Thing

In the past month, I’ve had three separate founder and CEOs who are in similar positions contact me. Each of their businesses is doing $3-5M in revenue and they’re expecting to double or triple sales this year. Over the past six months, two of the companies made a key hire in the VP of sales role that they initially thought was great but turned out otherwise. The common refrain is: “We thought we had the right guy – and he is a great guy – but he just wasn’t able to execute in the way we needed him to.” Both are now in the middle of trying to re-hire for a VP of Sales role and don’t want to make the same mistake twice. The third company hasn’t hired a VP of Sales yet but wants to make sure they do it right the first time. There must be something in the water.

There’s obviously a great cost in time, capital, and energy spent in making a key hire. Making a bad hiring mistake once is costly. Making it more than once can be catastrophic.

There is a very simple step to take before embarking on a new hire process. This step isn’t followed by most traditional recruiting firms. It will help your company make great hires — hires that stick and perform well over time. It applies not only to VPs of Sales but any other role, from CEO to customer service rep. Here’s the approach and its advantages.

Step #1: Know the Forces at Play

To know the PSIU forces at play means this: Before you do anything, first break down the new hire need into its most basic PSIU forces. When you can start with the basics, it’s much easier to get things right.

NOTE: Within Organizational Physics, organizational functions and individual management styles are broken down into their PSIU forces. If you’re not familiar with the PSIU forces yet, do yourself a favor and read this management guide. Once you’ve read the guide, continue with this article.

Let me show you how this is done by breaking down the VP of Sales role into its PSIU forces. First, every sales role requires the Producing (P) force to produce results. It is this force that drives making the calls, setting the meetings, doing the work, and winning the sale. That’s easy. But what other forces does the VP of Sales really need? It depends. What does the organization really need?

  • Does it need a Stabilizing (S) force to create highly efficient processes and systems to manage a sales team?
  • Does it need a high Innovating (I) force to do early-stage business development and ideation?
  • Does it need a high Unifying (U) force to connect well with customers and partners and […]
By |2021-05-18T04:55:49-07:00March 25th, 2012|Articles|2 Comments

The Happy High Achievers

Are you happy in your job? The data says you’re probably not. I can also speak from experience. For most of my life, I operated under a false assumption that the more successful I became, the more happiness I’d feel. But what I found was just the opposite. At one point in my early thirties, I had the experience of attaining everything I had once dreamed of. But instead of feeling elated and happy, I felt burdened, stressed, and beaten down by constant and competing demands. In my experience in the Young President’s Association, a worldwide group of successful CEOs, I found that very few were actually genuinely happy as well.

Why is this? Why doesn’t greater success seem to lead to greater happiness? There’s an interesting study on success and happiness by Dr. Vance Caesar of the Caesar Group that sheds some light on this phenomenon. In an ongoing study of high achievers (the top 2-3 percent of individuals in a given field) across all walks of life, Dr. Caesar discovered this: Only 1 out of 10 high achievers (.2 to .3 percent of the total pool) rate themselves as authentically happy. Imagine that: If you gather ten thousand top achievers from all walks of life—the rich, the famous, the talented—only a handful will actually consider themselves happy.

What’s the difference between a happy high achiever and the rest? In his research, Dr. Caesar identifies eight attributes that dictate both success and happiness. Most of these are fairly easy to recognize and intuitively make sense. They include a driving sense of purpose, a compelling vision, and the intrinsic feeling that your work is meaningful. Other attributes include beliefs and behaviors that create inner peace, a regular process involving the three Rs (review, renewal, and recommitment), and outstanding discipline. Additionally, happy high achievers generally work with mentors and coaches.

It turns out that one of the secrets of the top of the top—the tiny fraction that is both successful and happy—is that they mastered the game of energy management to such a point that they get more than they give from all of their key relationships. That may sound confusing at first so allow me to explain.

As we’ve discussed, everything is a system and every system exists in relationship to other systems. What happy high achievers recognize is that everything in life is ultimately an exchange of energy. After our health, the single greatest factor that energizes us or depletes us is the quality of our closest relationships. If you’ve ever been in a “vampire” relationship that sucks all the energy out of you, you know it can take days to recover from even a brief encounter. On the other hand, if you have a best friend who always seems to […]

By |2021-05-18T04:56:16-07:00March 11th, 2012|Articles|2 Comments

Where Are Your Energy Drains?

According to the laws of physics, your success is determined by how you manage energy – and there’s a universal success formula to prove it. Quite simply: success is a function of integration over entropy. Your goal is always to have high integration and low entropy. In “How to Choose the Right Strategy“, I explained how to create high integration in your company. What gets too little attention in business, however, is the havoc that high entropy plays on a system. It truly is the ultimate killer. Or as physicists Sir Arthur Eddington aptly put it in the early 20th century, “The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations — then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation — well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.”

So if there’s anything you should be doing in your business that you’re probably not focused enough on, it’s cultivating an awareness of entropy and a commitment to reducing it. Personally, I didn’t appreciate the significance of entropy in my own business until I ran into it. Hard.

In 1998, at the age of 28, I co-founded an affiliate marketing company in Minnesota and moved it to Santa Barbara, California. By 2001, the company was soaring like a rocket, generating incredible growth rates (much easier to do for a small company than a large one but it’s still a very exciting time), and was adding staff and customers as fast as we could to scale. During this period, everyone who associated with the company, from the staff to the customers and even people on the street, seemed genuinely blown away by its energetic, passionate, and committed culture.

As co-founder and CEO, I would often walk into the office and feel lifted two feet off the floor by the collective energy and enthusiasm of the group. I had installed a giant train whistle on the wall that the sales team would blow every time there was a sale. While the bankers on the second floor weren’t too happy with the frequent “blassssssssssssssssstttttttttttttttttt” of the whistle, we would all cheer loudly. It was a heady and intoxicating time.

Most of us had a feeling that the company had a growing opportunity in front of it and that we had the capabilities to execute on it. It was also relatively easy to make and implement decisions and there was a […]

By |2021-05-18T05:49:57-07:00February 27th, 2012|Articles|Comments Off on Where Are Your Energy Drains?

The Universal Success Formula

If you want to understand how something really works and what makes it successful, it’s not enough to break it down into its individual components. Instead, you need to look at how it operates as a system. By definition, a system is a series of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole. And there’s absolutely nothing you can think of that is not a system. For example, you’re a system (specifically, a complex adaptive or living system). You have a body, which is a physical system comprised of other systems (immune, circulatory, digestive, etc.). If we were to look closely at any one of these, we’d see that they’re comprised of even smaller systems. And of course, your physical system is also an element in a larger system. You have a mental and an emotional system; you’re part of a family system, a community system, an economic system, a government system, an ecological and planetary system, and so on. Everything is a system.

When it comes to the study of what makes something successful, what we’re really asking is what causes a complex adaptive system to fail or succeed. Success simply means that the system (e.g., you, your family, your company, or whatever you choose to identify as the system) attains a desired goal. Failure means it does not. Winning the Super Bowl…being happy…earning a billion dollars – as long as you can measure it quantitatively or qualitatively, it’s a valid definition of success. And because everything, large or small, is a system, we can use the same universal principles to understand if it’s likely to fail or succeed. That’s pretty cool.

What actually does cause any system to fail or succeed? The answer is System Energy Management. This means just what it sounds like: System Energy Management defines how energy behaves within a system.

The Universal Success Formula

Entropy. It’s a bitch. Two laws of physics dictate how energy is used within a system. They’re called the first and second law of thermodynamics. Engineers use the laws of thermodynamics to design everything from buildings and bridges to microchips and spaceships. We can also use these same laws to understand how energy behaves within an organization.

The first law of thermodynamics is called “Conservation”. It tells us that, at any given point in time, the potential energy available to a system is finite. Whether we’re referring to your family or your business, this has a finite amount of potential energy available to it. In order to get new energy, the system must acquire it from the surrounding environment — just like you must get food from the refrigerator or your business must get sales from its customers.

The second law of thermodynamics is called “Entropy”. It […]

By |2021-05-18T05:50:30-07:00February 20th, 2012|Articles|2 Comments