Balance is a force by which a container strives to remain in a state of equilibrium. Whenever a disruption happens inside it, the organization or container seeks out a point of balance.
It’s crucial for change agents to be aware of this peculiar force. For when you enter a container as a change agent, you are by default a disruptive force in the system. The container would absorb your ideas and values to a great extent, and accommodate you- rather warmly, if you are lucky. But such absorptions are never endless.
Any container would seek to regain balance against the waves of disruption
By incorporating your ideas and strategies, the container moves forward, and changes hopefully for the better.
Following one change after another, the container now traverses the transformation path. However, there comes a point at which the container yearns for a state of balance- an equanimity which is hardly appreciative of disruptive forces. At this point, if you have created a good rapport with the system, you would be absorbed into it- you are now as much a part of the container as anyone else. Welcome to the flock!
On the other hand, if your run of disruption has jarred the container too much, if you were not in tune with the container’s balance, and if you are found to be an impediment to the primal equilibrium the container seeks, you could get expelled from the container. In other words, one takes the force of balance lightly at one’s own peril.
One important concept related to balance is the balancing loop.
The balancing loops are forces that block the growth or progress of a container in one particular direction. Instead, these forces try to bring the container back into a state of equilibrium. And not just that, the forces try to maintain the container in that particular state.
The balancing loops are at play in every organizational container, along with the reinforcing loops which cause both growth and decay inside the systems. Typically, a container’s growth or decline would have reinforcing loops as its cause, whereas whenever a container moves towards a pre-defined goal, you see the balancing loops at play.
Another term that’s closely linked with the force of balance is homeostasis. It’s a tendency displayed by many living things to maintain a rather constant internal environment. In fact, even the human body displays this tendency.
There are many instances in which your body veers away from its point of balance(and not just when you are tipsy). When you exercise, for example, your body heats up, moving the body temperature a few notches up from the optimal temperature. Your muscles get exerted than normal, and your heart beats faster than what’s ideal. In other words, disruption is happening in the container.
But at the same time, the body absorbs the effects of this disruption. Muscles get built, your pupils dilate, your chest heaves and you become more alert to your surroundings- all as a result of your body the container accepting the ‘values’ of working out. But if you take things too far, if you exert yourself too much, disrespecting the balance of the body, discovering body parts you didn’t even know you had by virtue of pain may be the least of your problems.
In other words, stay in sync with the balance of your body, and work in conjunction with it, pushing the system just the right way but not too much so you end up breaking it.
Like the order of arrangement in rows, the force of balance seeks a familiar order
A fabulous example of a system regaining its balance is found in the Chinese myth of God Pangu and the creation of the world.
In the beginning was darkness. Inky, like a deep tunnel of vacuum, you would have seen nothing if had looked through it. Only, you couldn’t have looked even if you wanted to. For you were not there. Neither was there any tunnel. For there was nothing to make a tunnel with- not even vacuum, let alone fiber optic cables. There was certainly no internet nor oceans for giant internet cables to pass through. And no high rises stood at the shore of the ocean because there was no land.
There was just the endless blackness of chaos. And God Pangu lying within the cosmic egg.
The cosmic egg was a confluence of two forces- yin and yang- existing in perfect balance.
Only, one day, the sleeping God came awake and realised he was trapped inside. Not one to stay entrapped, the God cracked the egg open from within.
Yin and yang got seperated. But Pangu intervened. One of the forces had become the sky and the other earth. With his feet planted on the earth and hands holding the sky aloft, Pangu became the bridge that connected yin and yang.He thus maintained the balance of the container.
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