At rest or in motion?
Many of the structures in organizational life have a shared condition: they are at rest. Capacity building for nonprofits means a group has the capability to do something. It does not necessarily mean they use it to achieve at a higher level. Training in any subject increases knowledge and even skills. It does not say that the person is more productive after training than before. More broadly, increasing opportunity does not mean that a person or group can or does use opportunity. Our products and deliverables are often oddly disconnected from their use. A way I look at this is the distinction between being at rest or in motion.
In my experience products stay at rest because they are internally defined by what they are not the motion to put them to use. And people stay at rest not because they don’t want to do better but that they lack clear steps forward or the confidence to take them. The Patient Activation Measure I wrote about recently (Participant Activation) has a great focus on the extent to which respondents believe that what they do to improve their own health is consequential. Do you have confidence that your strategic plan will lead to higher achievement? More importantly, do you know how to get in motion to do something to implement or express the plan?
Motion is increasingly appreciated in organizations and in persons. Some therapists now work with patients while walking, not sitting. Some inventories used in hiring are as focused on abilities to shift in mental processing as on static depth of thinking. Some result frameworks now look at rate of change more than amount of change. And most of us find that we can discover direction better when moving than when standing still.
A term related to motion is kinetic, defined as “dependent on movement for effect”. And scientists speak of kinetic energy. In physics, the kinetic energy of an object is the energy that it possesses due to its motion. While this seems a bit circular the strong connection between energy, achievement, and motion is clear.
My Results1st partner, Robyn Faucy, and I now use another image for getting into gear. We call ourselves the “action arm” of plans, strategies, collaborations and other conditions that are nouns until we make them, verbs. The best way to find motion is to build it into the product. We help groups shift from seeing their strategy to committing to the strategic acts that make it effective.