Team Inertia

· November 9, 2018

Some of my thoughts from the post yesterday were around the value of flexibility in resource allocation that training gives an organization: if you can teach people practical skills rapidly you can more easily flex to respond to new needs. 

Several events today made me think about other forms of inertia - factors that make redeploying folks into more optimal work hard. 

Some of it is social or psychological - if people dont feel supported or have their status threatened they can often resist shifts in work type. 

Some of it is contractual or procedural - changing the type of a persons job may have impact on their compensation, or misalign with how they are evaluated. 

Some is legal and regulatory - companies treat temporary workers differently from permanent staff, or may be bound by union agreements, for example. 

Sometimes the inertia is good, in all forms: regulations and procedures protect workers, and social factors can act as a brake on poorly thought out ideas. Sometimes it’s just inertia though, and if it builds up too much you end up with ossified organizations that can’t respond to a changing world, which usually ends up worse for everyone. 

As the tempo with which organizations operate increases and the environment gets ever more volatile, the rate of organizational change gets higher. 

This leads to what I think is the fourth type of inertia - resistance to change due to another countervailing change. The larger the organization, the more this is likely to occur, and unlike the others it is a dynamic force: what looks like inertia from the frame of one change may appear as misalignment from the frame of another. For the folks caught in it, it can feel like a washing machine.