Monday, February 3, 2014

The Five Elements at Work

The practice question today is about the practical application of the five elements.

Recently, one of my business clients asked me for advice about their HR department as they are rapidly expanding and need to build new capabilities. Being a creative company, the well-being of their staff is crucial to their success.  

An effective HR department has five functions in a company:
  • administration of compensation and benefits
  • addressing employee issues
  • training and coaching resources
  • strategy and organizational development
  • change agent, when change is needed.
It struck me that these five functions correspond precisely with the five elements:
  • administration corresponds to earth as it provides structure
  • addressing employee issues corresponds to water, as it addresses feelings and tacit understandings
  • training and coaching corresponds with fire, as these areas are about energy and expertise
  • strategy corresponds to air, as it is about ideas and vision
  • and change corresponds to void, doing what is necessary when new situations arise.  
As an exercise, look at your own work and break it down into the five elements:
  • what provides structure and support?
  • what flows and how is that flow managed?
  • where is the energy and what happens with it?
  • what are the underlying values and/or strategy?
  • how do you meet changes in circumstances?
Then look at possible weaknesses or imbalances among the elements. Is the structure too weak and doesn't provide enough support, or is it too strong and stifles you? What provides the fire and energy? Do you have a plan for the future or do you jump from crisis to crisis? 

Please post your thoughts, reflections or observations below in the comment section.

For more on the five elements, see Wake Up to Your Life (pg. 154-5 and 226-232).  

1 comment:

Caitriona Reed said...

Hello Ken,

Nice model! Such a pleasure to see you applying your work to business .. though of course, you were way ahead of us in doing that.

Best, Caitriona

Five Changes