“The two greatest enemies of vision: being sedated slowly and being seduced by momentum.” Those were the words of my Pastor, Pete Wilson this past Sunday. As I thought about that statement for the past day, it still resonates with me and my experience in both growing my business as well as consulting with organizations world wide.
When you are a new business or brand new non-profit you cannot help but be laser focused if you are going to succeed. After all, the competition has more resources, and both broader knowledge and bandwidth to get things done. Start ups cannot compete on the broader spectrum, they have to go deep in one area, a niche, if you will. But the larger and more “stable” any organization gets, it becomes easier to start going wide and to lose focus in order to pursue other fun and interesting options that most likely are not in the very core of what brought you this far. You lose your focus and passion, and soon settle for maintenance. The day you pat yourself in the back and say “we have made it” is the day you’ll begin the slow slide to irrelevance and ultimately death.
Momentum is a wonderful thing. It helps us move forward without a lot of effort and once it’s rolling, it can roll us past a speed bump without a lot of trouble. However, momentum also gives organizations a sense of pride and arrogance that can be its undoing. Just because you are doing well, doesn’t mean you know everything and that your expertise then applies to anything you touch. This type of arrogance can bring organizations down when it comes to finances, to major capital investments in real estate, or starting business units without knowing their true costs. Xerox used to own the copy machine industry. They decided that since they were in most offices around the world that they could then be a computer company. They spent millions trying to launch a business unit that eventually failed. Their momentum gave them a false sense of security that eventually cost them not only the new computer division, but market share in the copier business as well.
Have you seen or experienced the sedated-slowly and seduced-by-momentum dynamics?