Arantxa García Fernandez
Danone South Europe Transformation Manager
The law of the conservation of energy states that matter is neither created nor destroyed, it is only transformed.
The same is true for companies; everything that defines them (their way of working, their culture, their values, etc.) is in continuous transformation, whether they like it or not.
Organizations may deliberately choose to transform themselves in one direction, or they may simply believe that by doing nothing, just simply by inertia, they will stay where/what they are. But they forget that the external environment is not static, and will therefore exert a pressure on them that ultimately transforms the organization anyway, and perhaps not in the direction they would have liked to go.
Inertia is the resistance of matter to change its state of rest or motion when no force is acting on it. It is well known that the greater the resistance of a body to change its state, the greater its inertia.
And this is exactly what makes inertia the first paralyzer for transformation. Why? Simply because inertia creates a delusion, a total inability to consider what is best for us and whether there is something we should change in order to become what we really want to be in the not too distant future.
Hamsters in captivity keep their wheel spinning because it is extremely boring for them to be locked in a cage, since in freedom they roam for miles in search of food, keeping themselves fit to escape their predators. When they are caged, nothing is more fun for them than exercising, because it brings them closer to what their life would be like in freedom.
The same thing happens to people in organizations, they need to feel busy and fill their time with activities that make them feel that their work has a meaning. Whether or not those activities are the best thing for the organization takes a back seat, we often stop questioning why we do what we do.
The main reasons why a company gets caught in the hamster wheel are usually the following:
- Lack of curiosity to look around what´s going on there in the world outside.
- Lack of self-criticism to question what is not working or what can be improved.
- Lack of the spirit of continuous self-improvement, always seeking to do things a little better.
Of course, we never admit to any of these reasons, we change them to the classic “lack of time”. And there is no better “excusometer” in companies than “we don’t have time for that”, when in reality it is just a camouflaged way of saying ” we are not interested in that” or “that is not a priority for us”.