A group’s impact, the value it generates, is a common measure of its success. Groups that generate greater impact and value tend to have greater access to the resources they need to continue generating impact and value.
We can understand a group’s impact and value generated as the energy it is able to engage, transform, and transfer. This energy engagement, transformation, and transfer is described by the geometries of the agreements field. The transferred energy can then generate even more energy, a surplus. Who ends up with the energy and the future impact it generates depends on the agreement about the energy transfer–the giver who engaged, transformed, and transferred the energy or the recipient to whom the energy was transferred.
- Transaction. In a transaction, energy flows towards the giver (payment) and towards the recipient (transferred energy). Energy flows both ways, in the moment. The giver no longer has a relationship with the transferred energy: the energy transferred now belongs to the recipient. The recipient keeps any future surplus generated from the energy received. The recipient now has the energy, and can use it to generate new impacts and value. The giver receives energy, in another form, for having engaged, transformed, and transferred energy.
- Loan. In a loan, the giver transfers the energy to the recipient, for awhile, with the requirement that the amount of energy transferred plus some surplus be returned to the giver in the future. Energy flows first to the recipient and then back to the giver. The giver receives the energy and surplus for having let the recipient use the energy for awhile.
- Gift. With a gift, the giver transfers the energy to the recipient. Any future surplus generated is for the recipient. Energy flows to the recipient. The giver receives the awareness of the future impacts the recipient generates and retains.
- Reciprocity. In a gift ecology, the giver transfers the energy to the recipient. The recipient generates surplus value with the energy, and transfers it to someone else. The energy transferred, plus the surpluses generated along the way, eventually are transferred to the initial giver. The energy and accumulating surplus flows around, through the circle, with all participants receiving and generating more.
People often label what they are doing as a gift, a loan, a transaction, or reciprocal. Sometimes it is what they say it is. Other times, they are not. For example, what is labeled a gift might have expectations of return, thus it is a loan. By looking at what the giver receives back and who receives future surplus the energy transferred generates, you can see what is actually happening. All four forms are valid. The point is to be clear on the intention, and what is actually flowing. Who do you want to benefit from the value/impact generated? Who do you want to end up with the energy generated? It is a choice.