Like many of you on the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada and in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and neighboring islands, I am dealing with the fallout from Tropical Storm Isaias. I consider myself fortunate because, outside of power outages and connectivity issues, my neighborhood was largely spared by the storm. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you who are dealing with more serious situations in the aftermath.
We weren’t completely spared from the storm’s destruction. A large tree in my backyard was taken down by Isaias’ strong winds. Like in the classic children’s book, "The Giving Tree," our trees provide us with so much: shelter, fruit and more. As I looked at my fallen tree, it occurred to me that it had provided my yard with shade and attracted birds that nested in its branches. What’s interesting is, even though it has been knocked down, there is still more that it will give. This weekend, I will be in my backyard with my trusty chainsaw cutting the tree apart. The tree will provide firewood for the cool fall evenings and winter days.
The first law of thermodynamics states that heat energy cannot be created or destroyed. Instead it is transferred from location to location and converted into other forms of energy. While my tree may have fallen, by reusing its wood to produce a fire, the energy it stored will be transferred and live on.
There is a business lesson to be learned here for anyone overcoming setbacks – from a pandemic, loss of a job, or even an ineffective or broken process. Continuous improvement practitioners see the potential for repurposing the energy in an organization or process and finding ways to more effectively apply that energy. We see a fallen tree of a process and we strip it down with root cause analysis and reconfigure it to produce “heat.”
As we continue to weather storms – figuratively and literally – please continue to look for ways to transfer the energy inside yourself and your teams into positive and productive processes. The energy is there. May you have the wisdom to find it so it may live on.
As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.
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