The four elements

The greatest flaw of management, IMO, is failing to balance the four elements. In this and the next several posts, I’m going to elaborate on some ways the imbalance of the elements can cause the failure of a project or an organization. First of all, let’s review what are the four elements, and what they symbolize.

Fire is the element associated with the drive, the will. Fire starts things, open new ways. It’s associated with courage, but also with restlessness and a tendency to let unfinished businesses behind when a new challenge arrives. Fire will tell you difficult truths on the face, it has no time for hurt feelings or social considerations. It lights the path, but whoever gets in its way will end up burned.

Earth structures and organizes things. It’s interested in what’s concrete and tangible. You’ll know the tree by its fruits, Fire’s initiative or Air’s ideas are worthless for Earth if they don’t generate concrete outputs. Without the other elements, however, Earth tends to excessive rigidity and conservativeness. Earth rules the defined processes, laws and regulations. It always plays by the book, dura lex sed lex.

Air has the ideas. It thinks outside the (earthy) box, but, without Fire’s initiative and Earth’s organization, Air tends to be content with the abstract thoughts. Why bother with the final product, if the model is so aestethically pleasing?

Water feels. While Fire will go through you, Earth won’t hesitate to punish you if  you violate the law, and Air will probably step on your toes while looking up for the clouds, Water cares for your feelings and emotional well-being.

By now, you’ve probably painted quite a few scenarios in your mind where the elements are imbalanced and what it causes. In the next several posts, I’ll try and go through some I’ve experienced myself.


2 Responses to “The four elements”

  1. The four elements – Open Space Technology « Mythic Praxis Says:

    […] Mythic Praxis Just another weblog « The four elements […]

  2. The four elements and the five dysfunctions of a team « Mythic Praxis Says:

    […] four elements and the five dysfunctions of a team By pabloemanuel Continuing the series about the four elements, let’s examine Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team and how his model relates […]

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