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How to harness the power of momentum
May 14, 2012 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment
True forward momentum pushes through any obstacle. It has an implied efficiency because once an object achieves a certain level of forward momentum, it requires less energy to maintain that speed. By connecting the physics of an object in motion (a piece of matter) to a business in motion (an idea/concept), you gain a unique perspective on how momentum can work for a business.
A start-up business requires massive amounts of energy to gain enough forward momentum to sustain itself. Once it achieves a level of sustainable momentum, you can dial back the throttle a bit and allow “physics” to work for you. In essence, the leader is “piloting” the business by adjusting throttle to maintain its forward momentum. Achieve a certain level and the company can easily break through obstacles such as competitors, cash crises, loss of key employees, bad decisions and other issues. However, every obstacle the company breaks through chips away at its momentum. If the leader fails to throttle up the company’s sense of urgency to overcome the obstacles in its way, it will lose its energy and eventually stall.
Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion apply to business just as much as they apply to mass and matter. Here are some no-compromise strategies to harness the power of business momentum:
- Pilot not passenger: As leader, you’re the one responsible for protecting and maintaining your company’s forward momentum. It’s your responsibility to pay attention to key indicators and where the course is heading. Remember, it’s your hand on the throttle. If you’re distracted, bored, procrastinating or hesitating because you fear the possible negative outcomes, you become your company’s biggest obstacle and the cause for lost momentum. Don’t sit in the pilot’s seat if you really want to be a passenger.
- Sense of urgency dial: My infamous sense of urgency dial goes from one (dead stop) to ten (full speed). Whenever I ask leaders what their sense of urgency dial is set on, they always say ten. When I ask what their employees’ sense of urgency dial is set on, I hear grunting sounds followed by, “Their dials are sent on five.” A leader’s job is to communicate the company’s vision and inspire extraordinary performance. Ultimately, the leader’s job is to set and synchronize the company’s sense of urgency dial to maintain forward momentum. Grab your company’s sense of urgency dial, turn it up a few notches and see what happens.
- Fast or slow: I’ve been studying and coaching companies for 40+ years. I can walk into a company and see and feel if its culture is fast or slow. I can talk to a leader about his or her challenges and identify a fast or slow culture. I can look at its financial reports and key performance indicators and find signs that the culture is fast or slow. Guess what: You can do the same in your company. Slow companies are stuck companies. Slow companies are losing or have lost their momentum. Slow companies have contaminated cultures caused by compromise at the leadership level. Slow companies have leaders who are afraid to rock the boat. Read my Wake Up! book.
- If it needs to be done – get it done: Can you and your team execute? If you think about it, just like sense of urgency, accountability has its own dial. It takes determination, commitment and focus for a leader to maintain high levels of organizational accountability in good times and bad. If you back off on accountability in good times, your company will start springing leaks. If you hesitate in bad times, the bad times will get worse. Accountability is not an evil word. Accountability is simply about getting things done on schedule and done right. Accountability is about instilling a sense of purpose where everyone steps up and plays to win.
The power of forward business momentum is truly a beautiful thing. It can be devastating if it heads in the opposite direction. Which way it goes rests in the hands of the company’s leader.
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What are you doing to maintain your company’s forward momentum? Share your thoughts above.
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