Objects at Rest Stay at Rest, So Do Organizations, Employees and Board Members

Newton Would Be Proud

Newton’s First Law of Motion states  that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. I find this so  true in today’s business world, too.

Stifled organizations find a comfort zone that can inhibit motion, speed and direction. An “unbalanced force” might be exactly what the organization needs. Unbalanced does not have to be a bad thing. It can be healthy, yet risky. It can be radical, yet position the organization for a path of energy and growth. Research shows change is critical, but it is often feared and resisted.  Employees may resist because their skills and abilities are tested; in other cases, they fear change  and sabotage change because it threatens their daily routine. Too often, as a consultant and as a CEO, I have witnessed employees anxiety about change, their fight to convince others that the change is not warranted . The question I always ask is, “what are you protecting?”  Rarely is a solid argument made that change jeopardizes the organization. Instead, I see the painfully apparent investment in protecting the person’s job, daily routine and organizational role.

I met Tom Peters, the renowned business consultant, author and speaker, several years ago. I was drawn to his passion to foster and demand change in organizations. He said every organization should have a Director of Creative Chaos – a person who challenges everything within an organization. He was not referring to Fortune 100 companies; rather, all organizations – for profit and not for profit. Tom Peters is an unbalanced force. I asked him to sign his book on the back cover and upside down. He laughed and said, “you get it and thanks for really listening.”

Employees can be invested in staying at rest. Members of a Board of Directors might be more comfortable avoiding risk, thus they stay at rest. The promising company can stay in motion, maintain a reasonable speed, manage change and experience energy leading to growth. A willingness to stretch core competencies into something new is energetic. Know what your customers expect from your organization and over-deliver. Anticipate trends and be the first to develop a response. Encourage employees to present new, wild, risky and unconventional ideas. Break the “permission to speak” mentality that thwarts employee ideas. Support ‘what if’ thinking.

Do you think Google, Apple, Amazon and other organizations known for creative successes stay at rest? So, who is keeping you under their thumb?

Egotistical board chairs, disruptive executives, owners of a family business have been among the “unbalanced forces” I have witnessed that model the negative side of this term. They lead by intimidation usually because of their lack of business acumen. Their “force” is one of control. They distort the facts to push their own agenda. They don’t invite opinion; rather, they dictate opinion. They like to set a stage where others fear to challenge their vision – usually a dark tunnel vision.  Sadly, their organization’s demise is predictable.

What to do…

Challenge, change or leave. Failure to do so means you will stay at rest. You will not move. You will be unhappy. You will not grow personally or professionally.

Where has risk taken me? I thrive on change. I’ve been a therapist, baseball coach, business entrepreneur, newspaper columnist, talk radio host, film producer, college professor, company owner, company CEO, founder of a not for profit, volunteer and screenwriter. Most importantly, I’ve been able and encouraged to do these things by people who love me – my family and friends. They charge my energy tank. We create through exploration, laughter and hard work. Together, we never stay at rest and have a blast doing so!

Are you at rest or in motion?

Is your organization at rest or in motion?

What type of an “unbalanced force” are you?

I welcome your thoughts.

Tom McNulty

Director of Creative Chaos


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