No Inertia

True, caring leaders tolerate no inertia.

June 9, 2017

This week, I helped my daughter with her physics homework.  The topic was inertia.  The goal in one case – applying concepts used in the inertia unit – was to answer exactly how one might tell which of two seemingly identical objects had more mass without lifting and weighing them.  The answer was to push against them to see which offered more resistance.  The object which offered more resistance would be the one with the most mass.

The entire conversation made me think about our business.  It seems to me that there exists a thing called Business Inertia. Business Inertia takes the form of implacable individuals who provide incredible resistance to any change.  This Business Inertia takes at least a half-dozen forms with one common outcome, “I will do nothing.”; each virtually assures that change will not happen in an organization where they exist.  Let’s call them Kane’s Irrefutable Laws of Business Inertia or The 6 Attitudes that Guarantee Change Will Never Happen.  They go something like this:

  1. I have outlasted every prick before you and I will outlast you too; and so I will do nothing. 
  2. If you are as good as you say you are, you will get promoted before you get this done; and so I will do nothing. 
  3. This will never work. / We tried that before / Our business is complex / You don’t understand our business; and so I will do nothing. 
  4. I am comfortable here and/or scared of going where you say; and so I will do nothing. 
  5. We need to protect the culture; and so I will do nothing. 
  6. I was demoted from your job / I want your job / I’ve convinced myself that I’m in competition with you for some future job; and so I will do nothing.  

Regardless of what form of Business Inertia you encounter, you must stomp it out, because it is a cancer that will quickly eat away at any progress you are making in your efforts to drive your organization forward.

And that’s the point for the week.

I tell folks that life is a bell curve.  Anything can be plotted into one.  In this case it is the level of receptivity (or willingness) of people to change and embrace new thinking. There will always be a handful of people in the left tail of the curve who, despite all encouragement, refuse to come along.  The amount of force, in terms of time, money and personal energy, required to move these people rightward in the curve is not worth the investment.  Accordingly, these people can’t be allowed to stay.  They will destroy whatever it is you are trying to accomplish.

It’s not fair to you for them to remain in the business.  It’s not fair to the business.  And it’s not fair to them.  Everyone deserves a chance to be happy.  Staying someplace where they are in direct opposition to the future direction and where 97% of the people are happy while they are miserable is no place they will want to be each day.  So as a leader, you owe it to them and the rest of your associates to find a place for them where they can be happy.  Because they won’t ever be happy in your business and you cannot afford to have them destroying what you are working so hard to build.

For you to be successful, every associate must have their hand on the rope and be pulling it in the same direction.  When that happens, extraordinary things can occur.  But at the first hint of Business Inertia, you must act – for the sake of your business and for the sake of the people putting all that they have into pulling on that rope.

So, when you see inertia, stomp it out.

And Win.

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