As my friend rounded the track, the car entered a long straightaway and accelerated to “ludicrous speed,” I felt a rush in the passenger seat – the kind that tempts you to put your hands up in the air on a roller coaster and whoop for joy! But that next corner was coming fast.
Race drivers normally brake at the last second to improve their lap time. As Sean finally stepped on the brakes, we slowed, but not enough to negotiate the turn. “Oh, sh**!” rang out as all four tires slid off the track and we skidded across the grass. Wall incoming…Boom!
Momentum sounds good in principle – organizations taste success and accelerate to capture more of it. We lock into a trajectory and get better and faster at delivering. But then competition enters our space, supply chains fail, and customer interests shift. Hard left turns are required, but momentum carries us towards a brick wall.
As part of my consulting work, I’m helping a client transform the way they sell. We use a framework to help them qualify their customers and the deal. One of the elements to consider is the competition. Check out the guideline:
“Who are you competing against? It is often times ‘business as usual’.”
Momentum feels good. It’s nice to put things on cruise control and give our brains a rest, ignoring what’s new and changing around us. But business as usual can be our biggest enemy, even when things are going well. Momentum is dangerous if we don’t have our head up.
That’s why when helping organizations transform, I remind them that the easiest thing for people to do when faced with change is nothing. At every level of the organization, we are constantly fighting the momentum of “the way we’ve always done things”.
We survived the car crash with no injuries, but the car didn’t fare so well. It was an important lesson in the negative power of momentum.
Transformation requires that we not only look ahead to the future, and to the environment around us, but also consider the way people are used to working, thinking, and interacting. These patterns have momentum that can be tough to break. Leading change requires creativity to break the current trajectory. Every approach is different.
Look ahead and consider where momentum may lead your people toward a brick wall and begin setting up road signs…in neon…with flashing lights!