The unimpeded flow of energy through your business is a measure of the business flow state
The flow state is defined as where “a person is completely focused on a single task or activity. They are directing all of their attention toward the task, and they do not experience many thoughts about themselves or their performance. Some people refer to this informally as being “in the zone.”” (Medical News Today) Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, who was part of the Positive Psychology movement, popularised the concept of “flow” and conceptualised it beyond academia.
To understand how the definition applies to business flow, we first need to agree on what a business is. At its foundation, I define a business as, “a collaboration of individuals working towards a mutual purpose”. The business is a collective of consciousness generating its own energy based on the energy brought by each and every one of the stakeholders (investors, employees, managers, suppliers, constituencies, etc.) of a business. Remove all the stakeholders and the business ceases to exist. From this perspective, we can now understand that the flow in a business is based on the flow of the collective stakeholders, so defining business flow as where “a business [i.e. its stakeholders] is completely focused on a single purpose or goal. It is directing all of its attention toward the purpose, and it isn’t experiencing itself in comparison to others nor concerning itself with its performance.”
Our unique perspective on Business Flow is to measure the business flow state through the energy flowing through the organisation. The factors that influence this energy are binary; they either detract or add to the energy supporting the flow state. That energy then flows towards the goal or purpose of the business.
The challenge today is that it is impossible in most businesses for all stakeholders to resonate with the purpose of the business, simply because it is, more often than not, all about satisfying the investors with their return on investment (“ROI”). Do you think the person cleaning the offices or the neighbour of the business cares about the shareholder ROI? Yet, they are stakeholders and contribute to the collective energy of the business, while their idea of purpose remains unsatisfied. This is why, in the new business paradigm, business can no longer get away with [insert colour]-washing their image to suite the prevailing winds of public opinion. Change has to happen at the core of the business, disrupting the very identity of it, in order to re-emerge ready to be the best version of itself in service of all its stakeholders and humanity as a whole. Similarly to personal development where we seek to become the optimal version of ourselves converting knowledge into wisdom, businesses enjoy that same journey.
All stakeholders need to be able to identify with the purpose of the business for the business to remain in business flow. Those that don’t identify will leave room for new, fresh energy to come in to support and identify with the purpose of the business, whether that being investors, employees, clients or suppliers.
Once there, the business has the platform to start moving into the business flow state. Beyond the foundation, businesses then have to look at all the elements that the stakeholders interact with as they will have an impact on the level of energy each stakeholder is capable of contributing. These are internal as well as external factors. These factors will be explored in later editions of this article series, but something to keep in mind is the importance of the stakeholders’ wellbeing as a factor in impacting the business flow. If stakeholders aren’t meeting the conditions for the flow state, the business won’t either. They don’t necessarily have to persist in that state, but they need to meet the conditions so that, when the opportunity arises, they can enter into it to support the business flow.
In the perfect convergence of conditions all energies are flowing through the business towards the purpose/goals of the business. This is when you enjoy the optimal business flow state and successes just “happen”.