Momentum is a measurement of the force resulting from a moving object. The more momentum an object has, the harder it is to stop. Momentum is a term used a lot in sports. When your team gets the momentum, you want to keep it. Businesses and other organizations can have momentum too. It is how we gauge the progress we are making toward realizing our vision and reaching our goals. To build significant momentum, we simply need to 1) get moving and 2) maintain a constant direction.
Momentum is only possible if you are moving toward a goal. And that is only possible if you know what you are pursuing. To set the direction, you need a defined vision of what you are trying to build and that needs to be shared with the team. Define the barriers and the opportunities and develop the plan. Then, steps need to be taken to change the direction toward the vision you have created. Only leaders can create momentum, the team will follow and managers maintain.
Maintain a Constant Direction
It is often easy to give up on a good plan, to lose momentum before it even gets started. Some things that cause us to drift away from our initial direction are:
- distractions that seem more important because they are urgent
- other goals that are newer, more fun or easier
- unforeseen barriers
- whining from team members not sold on the idea
- others in the organization who lead more effectively than we do
Knowing that these and other momentum-blockers are out there, we can prepare and react appropriately when necessary.
We must keep our eye on the prize, the reason we created the momentum in the first place.To maintain direction, we need to evaluate ourselves consistently and from now on. A lot at first and then less frequently.
Not All Momentum is Good
Back to our sports analogy - When a team has momentum, it is good for one team and bad for the other. In business, the "other team" can be a lot of things. It can be decreasing morale of a team, increasing financial trouble or a relationship with decreasing communication. When things seem to have bad momentum, it is important to see it, call a timeout and find a way to stop it from getting worse. More on that next month.....