I am an avid learner and one of my top 10 favorite books is On Form by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarz. The basic idea, based on coaching athletes and high performance teams, is that the key to an individual’s high performance is managing energy. In this way it positions our energy as our most valuable resource as opposed to time. (In general we run out of energy and fall asleep before we run out of hours in a day). For me this has been a guiding principle since becoming aware of the concept. My energy is the most valuable thing I have, so I need to be really careful how I use it to get maximum return. I found, leading teams, that the concept was also of even greater value, since the potential to waste huge amounts of irreplaceable organisational energy becomes immense if you end up with entire teams running around like busy idiots. (It looks energetic, but nothing of value is created). Or indeed if one non-aligned team member is energetically distracting the rightful focus of other team members.
I’ve spotted careful guardianship of organisational energy in many places. For example, the successful Chief Ambulance Officer who was the first to recognize that having paramedics clean their vehicles, was in fact a waste of energy which was then not available to be spent saving lives.
I was reminded of this again most recently when speaking to a director of a successful service organisation when discussing the merits of using technology in customer service. He pointed out that we use the energy of our people to do something they are not very good at and don’t enjoy – namely working out engineer's schedules in an ever changing environment, on the other hand we use a machine to talk to our customers ("press 1 oblivion, 2 for dead end, 3 to really test your patience"). Something which our customers hate. Greater value is surely created if the energy of our teams is spent on something they are good at and enjoy, namely talking to customers and creating good relationships.