Energy flows around and through a system, along the channels established by the principle of inescapable bond. It is as if the inescapable bonds are the wires or tubes between one thing and another, and the energy exchange is whatever flows along them. So, to continue the example used for inescapable bonds, although my boss is my boss, the quality and nature of the energy exchange between us can change. We can communicate differently, relate differently, think of one another differently etc.
Energy exchange is what keeps the system as a whole functioning – more or less healthily. In a healthy system there is a good quality and more or less reciprocal exchange between different sub systems, and particularly between the centre and the various sub systems. So for example in a traditional Kingdom, the ruler would send out communication, offer protection, administer the law, perhaps tour the villages every now and then. In return, the various towns, villages and municipalities would be expected to adhere to the central principle (i.e. loyalty to the King and maintaining the rule of law etc) and also support the centre through offering money, food and soldiers in a time of war.
Examples of energy exchange:
In an organisation healthy energy exchange happens when different departments freely and appropriately offer one another time, information, resource, in service of the overarching goals of the centre of the organisation as a whole. In a team, healthy energy exchange happens likewise when individual team members are able to pursue their own central intentions, while simultaneously supporting one another in service of an overall team, and organisational goal. Energy flow is aligned, moves freely and reciprocally.
In our own bodies, when energy exchange is working well, the various functions and organs of our bodies are in communication with one another, nutrients, hormones, chemicals are exchanged. Again each individual system does its thing, and exchanges with other sub systems in service of the vitality of the whole.
When energy exchange does not work:
We can quickly see here what dysfunction or breakdown starts to look like, and this becomes very important in working with organisation or team situations. When relationship breaks down, information or resources may be withheld. There may be limited or only one-way flow between different people or teams who – for the good of the overall system – really need to be exchanging. If a boss or executive committee loses relationship with the rest of the team or organisation, then energy exchange from centre to other parts of the system becomes diminished or blocked. At this point it is increasingly hard for the different functions and sub systems to work coherently together as a whole. Things will feel slow, difficult, confused, tense and ultimately if healthy energy exchange cannot be restored, the organisation as a whole will begin to break down in some way. Finding ways to see where the principle of energy exchange is not working well, and learning how to restore it, become important work for leaders in organisations.
There are a great many interesting implications of thinking about this principle of energy exchange in the context of work and organisations. The role of money is one. Many people today see money as a primary purpose of work or business (a central organising principle). In fact in Centre Edge terms it is more natural to see money as one (just one) form of energy exchange. It is one way of exchanging for resource, time or energy. When the pursuit of money becomes a central goal – whether for a person or an organisation, people eventually feel their work to be rather meaningless and shallow. The original purpose, the ‘point’ of what they are doing has become lost, and replaced at centre by the pursuit of money. Ideally, and in work and businesses with vitality, meaning and purpose, money is seen simply as one resource that flows around the system in order to support the ongoing expression of the original, creative purpose or intention of the system. This is a much wiser pattern for a healthy happy organisation.