By Laurie Edebohls, Secretary Nerrigundah RFB.
Cartoon by Roger Harvey.
Small volunteer organisations such as fire brigades have many things in common with batteries.
They have a positive element, a negative element and electrolyte in the middle – The doers, the naysayers and the folks that make up the numbers in between.
There can be a potential difference between the positive and the negative – When the doers get jack of the naysayers squashing all their ideas or when the naysayers get jack of the doers continually striving for change.
Occasionally when the positive becomes directly connected with the negative there’s a spark and a potential outcome. The strength of the spark varies and affects the outcome – When the naysayers agree with the doers that something’s a great idea it’s likely to result in a successful outcome provided the naysayers get a share of the credit for the idea.
When the positive and the negative cease to have a potential difference the battery produces little or no power and will eventually go flat or become dis-functional – No difference between the doers and the naysayers, no debate, no outcomes.
Some batteries are single-use or disposable. Materials are irreversibly reversed or changed during discharge and the whole battery gets thrown out – Organisations with no long term goals implode after a few achievements and become dysfunctional.
Battery outputs will fluctuate depending on demand. An ideal battery cell has negligible internal resistance and would maintain a constant terminal voltage until exhausted. Self-discharge happens when no load is applied – Organisations that face no challenges or have no tasks will produce little output.
Rechargeable batteries can be discharged and recharged multiple times. The original composition of the electrodes can be restored by reversing the current – Organisations that fall flat can be re-vitalised by the arrival of new players.
Battery lifetime can be dependent on the care of the battery and demands placed upon it from outside sources – Organisations require nurturing and encouragement. Overly bureaucratic warlords above can threaten their existence.
Overcharging can be detrimental – Over-exuberance of achievement seekers beyond realistic goals can dampen member support.
Environmental and external conditions can have an impact on battery performance – Organisations need to involve their communities and bring them onside with new initiatives to maximise achievements.
Impurities in the electrolyte can be detrimental to battery operation – One bad egg in an organisation can upset the whole function.
Long term storage requires particular actions to be taken. Corrosion can impact performance – Brigades need to stay active over the quiet fire season, maintaining equipment and skills.
Some batteries are sold partially discharged and must be charged before use – Organisations need time and encouragement to develop and become functional.
Nickel cadmium batteries show a decrease in capacity (called memory effect) if used in a particular repetitive manner – Organisations need to adapt to or bring about change if they are to stay relevant.
Sometimes batteries can explode due to misuse or a short circuit – Upsetting individuals in a team can split the fabric of an organisation and bring about its demise.
Sometimes batteries may leak – Loyalty of members of an organisation is important to gain and maintain.
Sometimes batteries my be effected by toxic materials – Don’t consume “speak easy” substances at or prior to meetings.
Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries as used by Radio Controlled Models have a flexible foil-type outer case making them 20% lighter than traditional cylindrical cells of the same capacity but also making them subject to external pressures – Organisations can operate effectively in a relatively unconstrained environment held together by a thin layer of well-orchestrated control measures.