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Things & Energy

Updated: Mar 20, 2023



This twitter quote is how I know a truth (and a huge shout out to Dadman Walking for it!). Things and energy matter. If both things (outcomes) and energy (how people interact) didn’t matter, then I would not care if my children rolled their eyes, groaned, dragged their feet at they walked in the kitchen and sighed as they performed a 10-minute chore looking like I just destroyed their will to live. But I do care.


Things and energy…this concept is a core tenet of a body of work called Adaptive Organizations, and for those of you who were fortunate enough to have the time to make our last Campfire Chat with Carolyn Mckanders, you heard her reference this idea.


The funny thing is, we try to measure energy like it is a thing. We see it in medicine. We call it "relational continuity" in primary care. It is how we put a value on having the same provider and how we value the relational impacts of care.


We see it in staff experience surveys. How satisfied are the employees in their job? How do people feel valued?

As a rather brilliant colleague (Caitlin Grisack if you want to know – she is worth knowing!) highlighted – we see it in the requests for “decision making” tools or “scripts” to manage conflict, to have a conversation, to manage the situation. We have a fear of energy. We don’t call it for what it is, and we want to control it, or avoid it, or walk away from it.


Energy is present in all that we do. When we are “in the groove” at work, or you feel a “flow” while working with a colleague, that is energy. The “things” part of work becomes easy.


When we have a conflict, or groups re-make decisions, or ask for a “vision”, or blame others for work – that is also energy. Accomplishing the “things” part of work is hard without attuning to energy.

Whether we like it or not, energy exists. We can ignore it or try to measure it like a thing, or we can notice it for what it is, harness it and use it to get the “things” we need to get done, actually done.


These are the skills we need to make work really work, and these are the skills that we teach at Thought Architects. We are energy teachers.


Now – I have to harness energy and get my kids to empty the dishwasher.

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