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Newton’s Laws of Motion and creating project momentum

By John Chapman, Programme Director | Friday 14th July 2017.

John Chapman
Newton’s First Law of Motion states that “every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

Consequently:

  • An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless a force acts upon it.
  • An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless a force acts upon it.

Projects

Deriving from Newton’s First Law of Motion, we can state:

  • An individual that is at rest will stay at rest unless a force acts upon it.
  • An individual that is in motion will not change its velocity unless a force acts upon it.

The purpose of the project is to produce change. The purpose of the programme is to realise outcomes. To realise these we need to bring a force to bear on the individual/the organisation. How much force is required? This is where Newton’s Second law of motion applies.

Newton’s Second Law of Motion

We want to bring about change, a change in behaviours, a change in working practices, a change in direction. According to Newton’s second law of motion we need to bring a net force to deliver this change.

The larger the mass (i.e. the larger the organisation) the more force is required. The bigger the change in direction may require more than one force to be applied. Once the change has commenced the force needs to be maintained otherwise momentum is lost, or increase the force to increase acceleration.

Conclusion

How to bring about this force? John Kotter identifies an 8 step process for leading change.

  1. Create: Sense of Urgency
  2. Build: Guiding Coalition
  3. Form: Strategic Vision & Initiatives
  4. Enlist: Volunteer Army
  5. Enable: Action by removing barriers
  6. Generate: Short term wins
  7. Sustain: Acceleration
  8. Institute: Change

People are not machines. They can be irrational and behave in ways that appear illogical. Whatever the force is that prevents momentum (e.g. inertia, indolence, apathy, lethargy, laziness, torpor), remember Sir Isaac Newton’s classical mechanics, a force needs to be applied. John Kotter gives us eight steps to follow to apply this force.

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