One of the most important things we have learned about organizational momentum is just how fast it can change. Organizations were once much more resilient to large and rapid fluctuations of momentum than they are today. These nine steps will help you to maintain the momentum you already have and build upon it.
1. Protect the organization from you!
The fears, insecurities, ego needs, and arrogance of one or more leaders can be the single greatest harm to a high momentum organization.
2. Build a great leadership environment and team.
A blend of catalysts, experts, and testers working in a high trust environment can do amazing things!
Experts – Known for possessing specialized knowledge relevant to the organization. They provide expertise needed for making sound decisions.
Catalysts – Known for being innovative, future oriented, and big picture thinkers. They move an organization beyond its present state.
Testers – Known for candor, assertiveness, and testing assumptions through questioning. They help guard against major mistakes.
3. Face your organization’s reality, don’t avoid it.
Every organization has ups and downs, but an organization cannot improve until it honestly faces its weaknesses and opportunities.
4. Swing for singles, enjoy home runs.
Many organizations strive for home runs. However, most momentum comes from the convergence of small opportunities, small actions, and small successes over a long period.
5. Compare your organization to your vision, not to others.
Comparison can be deadly to momentum. Other organizations are not your measure; your vision is.
6. Experiment when you are strong.
The best time to try new ideas for momentum is when the organization is healthy, having both energy and resources. Even when an organization is weak, however, it must still experiment. Not experimenting will likely lead to further decline.
7. If everyone is talking about it, think twice about doing it.
Often, organizations adopt programs and events because so many others do. Sustainable momentum is seldom built this way.
8. Guard momentum since it is hard to acquire and easy to lose.
It only takes a few hurtful events or bad decisions to lose it.
9. Success is often a greater enemy than being average.
When an organization is experiencing momentum, its leaders can become proud which results in arrogance and failure to continue learning.
We have seen far too many organizations slow their own momentum down by getting stuck on the less important details. The most important things you can do are to define your vision in a way that paints a clear and compelling picture of your future, while appointing leaders who are trustworthy and have a history of proven performance. Once you have those two factors in place, outlining the other aspects will come much more easily.
For more information on this topic, read the article "Organizational Vision and Momentum" in our book GUIDE – Building the Team. Setting the Direction. Fulfilling the Mission..
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of organizational assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include an M.Ed. in Instructional Systems Design from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership from The Union Institute.