The Inertia of Protracted Custom

28 10 2015

“Life leaps like a geyser for those who drill through the rock of inertia.” ~Alexis Carrel

This one took some wrangling of quotes and comics to make sense.  I hope I succeeded.  This morning, in a meeting, I heard the term “Inertia of protracted custom”, and I was delighted to hear it!  I love phrases that take a moment for you to wrap your head around and need some percolation to absorb fully.  I’ll pause now while you do that…. Take your time, then read on.

To me, that’s the “if it ain’t broke” argument, wrapped up with the “we’ve always done it that way” defense.  It’s the “rock of inertia” that you have to break through to win hearts and minds when you are a new leader, whether as a result of a merge/acquisition, promotion, or other significant change.  Bosses will say “this is the new my way… or the highway”, and cram change down their team’s throat.  They might get the job done, but won’t have the enthusiastic support of their team.  Leaders will say “watch this, this new way will make your jobs easier because of X, Y, and Z”.  They show consistent and unwavering enthusiasm for the new process, get a few champions on the legacy team to buy in (bribery is optional), and then have them celebrate the change with the rest of the team.  So… which one do you wanna be?

Speaking of custom(er)…


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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