Everybody gets stuck.
It happens to organizations as well as individuals. It doesnt
matter how exciting the change effort is, or how many people are on
board. Enthusiasm flags. Internal change leaders flame out. Efforts
start to wander off strategy.
The problem is a matter of simple physics. Momentum equals mass
times velocity. When velocity (in our case, energy) slows to zero,
we stop moving toward the goal of the change.
How do we get that mass moving again?
It helps to know where we are on the momentum scale. Momentum isnt
an on/off switch. At The Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group, weve
coined a few terms to help pinpoint how were doing right now. For
instance, do we have momentum or are we experiencing
- uh-ohmentum (backward motion!)
- faux-mentum (it only looks like were going somewhere)
My favorite place to be is flow-mentumthat exhilarating state where
knowledge, energy, and ideas flow seamlessly across the
organization, empowering everyone to do their best work.
Once we know where we are, how do we get where were going? We can
slow down to ask ourselves some key questions: What can I do to
create momentum? What resources can I tap to reinvigorate this
effort? How can I connect it to the change strategy?
By asking questions, we open ourselves to those unexpected
opportunities, those cracks in the system, that take place in
organizations more often than we think. Maybe a normally calm
senior executive unexpectedly makes an impassioned speech, or an
outspoken critic of the change effort reveals the personal motives
behind his objections, or a team stumbles on a new way to think
about an issue.
These are often referred to as aha! momentsand momentum starts with
the first breath after the aha! If we, as consultants and change
leaders, can spot these ahas and engage them immediately, we can
leverage the opening in the system they create to restart the
process behind the change. Once the first crack appears, its game
Acting quickly is essential. If a closed system suddenly cracks,
and there is no momentum to rush in toward the desired changeno
one, as it were, to hold open the crackthe system recloses faster
and more firmly than before. The status quo becomes even more
Conversely, if we can hold open the crack, other
opportunities begin to arise. With each opportunity seized, the
energy builds, and so does the momentum. The organization is back
on track, moving powerfully toward the change it seeks.