April 28, 2019 Banoyi Zuma

The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic
Peter Drucker

Solving today's problems with yesterday's solutions

Seeing how some organisations adapt to the changing environment, makes us wonder whether these organisations have the capacity to adapt? Are they able to adjust both their business and their strategic focus? Inertia comes to mind, since often problems regarding strategic adaption stem from inertia. It is omnipresent in many industries, nowadays. Inertia is paralysation occurring as a consequence of accelerating change, leading to responding too late, inadequately or worse, non-response.

The many faces of inertia

Inertia has many faces as the sources of inertia can differ per industry or type of organisation. There is structural inertia, which occurs when an organisation has lost its flexibility due to the structures and systems it has put in place over time. This makes change difficult, costly and lengthy. 

Corporate inertia is the phenomenon whereby an organization gets stuck in its ways of thinking and behaviour and thereby chooses the beaten path because of commitments made in the past. Commitments are management’s actions that contribute to an organization being pinned down on certain behaviour in the future. They tend to have a lock-in effect, forcing an organization, both rationally and emotionally, to persevere in the chosen path. 

Active inertia is the case when an organisation accelerates on activities that succeeded in the past. These are just three forms; there are more. What links them is the fact that in all instances it has to do with how management views the business. What is unsettling with inertia is the fact that although it might seem the organisation is moving, it is not. It is in fact immobile.

Persevering on the beaten path

In our experience, often we see traces of active inertia. Management responds to the most disruptive changes by doubling-down on the activities that succeeded in the past, which are based on the old formula for success. Solving today’s problems with yesterday’s solution. Often the beliefs and attitudes of the founding fathers and/or the conditions of the environment when the organisation was founded, still imprint the organisation. Stuck in certain ways of thinking about the business and certain behaviour, these organisations persevere on the beaten path even when the environment has changed dramatically.

So, how do you get things moving? Enters: The Rainmakers! They are a group of creative changemakers who will help your organisation remove the blockades. Rainmakers are a new breed of strategists who view themselves as context setters and designers of learning experiences within organisations. Creative leaders who are able to redefine industry boundaries and rethink business models. Leaders who get your organisation moving by asking the right questions.