The Role of Energy and Power In Managing Your Business

All businesses have unique power and energy. Some have more and some less.  None are identical, which explains why their operating capabilities are very different.

Let’s be clear. This power is not about control, manipulation, force of any kind, coercion, or superior strength. It’s the first definition of “power” you’ll find in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: the ability to act or produce an effect.

Applied to a business, power is the ability to move, initiate, change and innovate. It’s about causing effects—i.e., results—to happen for the business and its constituents and, ultimately, to grow.

Without sufficient levels of power, a business is stuck.

In a very real sense, a business owner and leader’s primary role is to manage, expand and effectively deploy the energy and power in his/her business.

Five Sources of Business Power

Not surprisingly, business power derives from business energy. There are five parts to business energy:

  • People
  • Time
  • Money
  • Structure
  • Tools

Without exception, everything a business does or attempts to do requires some combination of all of these.

So What?

Almost everything a business does and attempts to do to change, innovate, improve and grow starts as a project with a duration and scope. Successful projects are consumers of all five parts of business energy in varying combinations.

Skeptical? Here’s a simple case in point.

Let’s Take a Car Trip

Our organization has decided a couple of our managers need to go to Dallas from its Chicago headquarters. It has further determined that a car trip is the best way to accomplish this (rather than any other form of transportation).

The journey is 930 highway miles and takes around 15 hours, at an average speed of 60 miles per hour.

Here’s where the organizational energy and power calculation comes in.

People – Two people are required to trade-off driving for safety and efficiency.

Time – At least two full days are needed for the trip, including the 15 driving hours and an overnight stay in or around Conway, Missouri, which is about halfway to Dallas.

Money – The trip will require at least 40-45 gallons of gas. Depending on prices along the way, the gas expense will be $90 to $100. This is in addition to hotel rooms for two people for one night, plus meals for both managers. So we’ll need around $550-650 for the one-way trip. We must double it for the managers to return to Chicago at some point.

Structure – This is the “how we do it” part. It’s the plan for the trip, and all the arrangements made in advance for various travel and lodging needs. Without it, our managers would just be wandering around, guessing and hoping they were going in the right direction to Texas.

Tools – The car itself is a needed tool. The road map—electronic or paper—is another. So are credit cards for travel and gas payments, gas to power the car, motel rooms and meals and list goes on.

We could debate the wisdom of driving to Dallas from Chicago—rather than fly or take the train. Here’s what’s not debatable. If this project were deemed necessary and important by the business, then it would take varying amounts of each of the five business energies and resultant organizational power to act on and accomplish it within the time, money and result parameters set for it.

Here’s a quick exercise for you to prove the point about the importance of calculating energy and power in planning and executing a new business project or program:

Assume that at least one of the five parts of business energy required for the one-way car trip from Chicago to Dallas was simply not available. Then assess the probable success and advisability of the project.

It’s crucially important for business leaders to understand and appreciate the five parts of business energy. Factoring these into the planning of projects, goals, business plans and programs will influence whether the organizational power actually exists within the business to create a successful result.

Key Ideas

  1. Without business energy, there is no business power.
  2. A business owner’s prime responsibility is to manage, expand and deploy the energy and power of the business.
  3. There is no growth and sustainability without business energy and power, i.e., the ability to act.
  4. When considering and planning new business projects, programs or initiatives, always ask whether the organization has enough aggregate energy to start and finish the project while continuing to conduct day-to-day business operations. Failure to include the energy factor is a serious planning and execution oversight.
  5. Business projects, plans and initiatives can’t exist and operate outside and independently of the energy and power needed to accomplish them. Assuming otherwise is naïve at best and dangerous at worst.
  6. Most other people in the business will not consciously consider whether there’s enough energy and power for an initiative. The owner and senior management are responsible for knowing, calculating and using energy and power—and if enough is available or can be made available to the project.