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Don’t Let Inertia Block Forward Progress

My last post, titled Delay Breeds Danger, talked to the importance of institutionalizing a sense of urgency as the way to accelerate through opportunities in front of you. Today’s post is about overcoming your single greatest challenge to swift action – that highly powerful blocking force of inertia.

What exactly is inertia? Simply put inertia is everything that makes up what your organization stands for at the moment you embark on an accelerated path forward. Inertia can include any or all of the following:

* Fear of change

* Fear of the unknown

* Your organization’s culture

* Your organization’s processes

* Prior experience

* Comfort in how things were done before

* Your brand’s reputation in the marketplace

* The perception of the company within the company

I’m sure you’ve experienced what it’s like when a change program suddenly slows or stalls. For many it feels as if something grabs hold of the forward progress and pulls it backward. Some say it’s similar to running headfirst into a strong wind.

Think about it. Inertia is all about how it was. Yet, there you are trying to move away from how it was to how it needs to be. You’re committed to transcend beyond something with a lot of history and mass, and determined to morph it into something that’s relatively unknown. No wonder inertia disrupts forward progress. The laws of nature are fiercely at work.

What to do?

First, never forgot how powerful inertia can be. Recognize upfront that it will rear itself – right out of the gate and whenever cracks appear in your change program due to uncertainty, soft results, or a weak effort.

Second, be prepared. Anticipate the power of inertia by arming your change coalition as forcefully and deeply as possible. Give it the chance to succeed. Let everyone know that resistance will happen so they don’t panic. Evangelize how the future can be better than how it is. Continuously demonstrate how the competitiveness – even the vitality – of the enterprise is at stake. If you do all of this, the natural blocking force of inertia will ease enough to give you the time you need to move forward.

One Comment

  1. Tom Butta says:

    You know the old maxim 'There's nothing certain except death and taxes'? I'd add inertia to it. Inertia is guaranteed to rear itself.

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