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Every force has a counterforce. How to get them on your side.

My friend Newton and I were going to continue talking about how his laws play into the improvement work as well. Here we have now reached the third, and final, team.

Newton’s three laws are:

  1. The law of inertia(described in the post of 26 September)
  2. The law of acceleration(described in the post of 3 October)
  3. The law of effect and repercussion (which we talk about in this post)

The law of inertia

The first law tells us that an object that is at rest will remain so if no force moves it, and that once the object starts moving, it will continue in that direction until some force moves it in another direction.

Translated into improvement work, this means that we need to make an effort to get our improvement work going, otherwise nothing will happen. And that we need to ensure that the momentum we have gained once the improvement work is underway continues so that we don’t stall due to countervailing forces. The latter is what we talk about further below.

The law of acceleration

The second law tells us that it takes a force proportional to the size of the object and the desired speed to make it move in one direction. The heavier the object, the more power is needed to bring it up to a higher speed.

For our improvement work, this means that we need to weigh up how to proceed, i.e. what strategy we should adopt. If we are to go broadly and involve everyone in the activity, we have to expect that it will either be slow or that we will need to devote large amounts of resources. It has its advantages and disadvantages.

If we choose a smaller area instead, we can maintain a high pace with less energy. This, of course, has its advantages and disadvantages.

Now we move on to Newton’s third law.

The law on effect and repercussions

The third law tells us that for every force there is an equal counterforce. This means that if you throw the ball with a certain force, you will be affected with the same force.

If you’re standing on the ground, that force is absorbed by your feet on the ground, so you don’t feel it so much. However, if you are hanging in your space suit in space and throw a ball, you will be thrown backwards, or around, with the same force as the ball goes away.

If we then transfer this to our improvement work, we can see that when we as leaders start the work, we will face resistance. The resistance comes from the fact that people generally don’t want to change. Many want to see a change in the business, but few want to change themselves.

A change does not always equal an improvement

Pursuing improvement always means undergoing change. To be better, we need to do something different from before, that is, a change.

However, it is not necessarily the other way around; a change is not always an improvement. Change is hard. It can also be exciting and enthusiastic, but it’s always hard too. Especially in the beginning before we see the effect of our improvement work.

Remember what Newton’s first and second laws taught us; that objects like to be in the position they are, and that it takes a lot of force to change a large object. In our business, we need to be prepared to take the initial push to get started and work on improvements.

If we don’t take the first step, we won’t get anywhere.

Initially, it is mostly force against

The backlash is greatest at the beginning. Once we get started, it will be easier. It’s easy to see in person if we intend to start running. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier once it becomes a routine and we can see the benefits.

To make this a reality in your business, you need to have a clear strategy on how to get the work started, and how to deal with any resistance. Employees will come up with this or that argument as to why it is not possible to start right now.

You need to have identified these beforehand so that you can respond to them properly. Of course, it’s hard to think of all the arguments that will come up, but if you’ve managed to identify a majority of them, you’ve made it easier for yourself and for the improvement initiative to succeed.

You probably have more committed than opposing workers

If you recall, I have referred to Gallup’s regular survey of how we feel in our workplaces. Unfortunately, only 14% are engaged employees, 74% are disengaged and 12% are counter-employees.

If we just look at it mathematically, 14% is still more than 12%. That’s because if we put the 14% on one side who are the force in your business who want to improve and develop the business. The counterforce is the 12% who don’t want to improve but work against it.

This means that there is a 2% advantage in favour of those who are committed and want to develop the business. These are the two percent you need to use to succeed. The advantage may be small, but it is important.

Hang in there, because it gets easier

And remember that the further along you are in the improvement process, the less effort it takes to keep it going. I see the Gallup disengaged 74% gradually shifting to engaged. Maybe even one or two of the 12% will go over and get involved.

We should remember that of the counter-workers, there is not a lack of commitment, it is just that it is wrongly channelled and focused. They are more concerned about sabotaging than developing the business.

If you can demonstrate that the improvement is beneficial, you will also increase commitment to the work. As a result, the longer you push, the easier it gets. Soon, improvement work will be part of everyday life. What we talk about; continuous improvement, is no longer just a nice phrase but something we really work towards.

With that, we’ve reached the end of our look at how Newton’s laws can play into our world of business development. Maybe he hadn’t thought of that when he sat there under his apple tree. 🙂

I wish you a nice autumn week.