Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Movement != Momentum

Free_Body_Diagram[1] Momentum is an interesting thing.  One of those cheesy “motivational” posters states “Momentum: It is not of importance where we stand but in what direction we are moving”.  Cheesy?  Yes.  Partly true?  Sure.

The problem is that movement can cause the illusion of momentum.  Let’s do a little physics refresher.  The equation for momentum is:


  • p = momentum
  • m = mass
  • v = velocity

If you have friction, you might be able to exert enough force to overcome that friction and move for a brief period of time, but as soon as that force is removed, the counterforce of friction quickly slows things to a stop. 

63969933_0c1e556fcd_m[1]This stop and start movement does not equate with momentum. In terms of your life or team, if you have momentum, one change can trigger another change, can trigger another change, like an avalanche.  Working to get some movement is important, but do not mistake it for momentum.  To get momentum, you need to increase force or reduce friction.  Probably you’ll need both!

Stop and start movement can yield positive results, but it requires too much effort and is not sustainable.  Getting “the big Mo” (as Josh Lyman calls it) is very important to any effort.

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