Overcoming Inertia and Getting Things Done

We're accustomed to thinking of business leaders as paragons of wisdom, courage and productivity. But the truth is, action is hard…

Overcoming Inertia and Getting Things Done

We’re accustomed to thinking of business leaders as paragons of wisdom, courage and productivity. But the truth is, action is hard. In business, there’s usually more risk involved in moving forward boldly than in staying still.

You see this all the time. The federal government has criticized corporate Canada for sitting on its profits, rather than investing in new products and strategies. In my consulting, I often see companies that know their future depends on new initiatives and growth, but still hesitate to take risks. I call this problem “executive inertia.”

Here’s a simple example. I have often helped entrepreneurs work out new business plans or focus their sales efforts. Too often, those plans were set aside as soon as I turned my back. Not because they don’t want to change and grow, but because… action is hard.

A marketing professor I know teaches a course in which groups of his students help real business clients solve real-life problems. Each client, in effect, gets a cost-effective plan for free. The clients love these plans, says my friend: “But not once have any of the campaign recommendations been implemented.”

Most business leaders will tell you that great ideas – for new products, for selling more, or managing more efficiently – are rare. So what explains this lack of responsiveness? Here are a few ideas:

  • Leaders are too busy to do anything new. With texts, email and social media, we never get away from business. But all the buzz seems to distract us and prevent us from doing our most important work: renewing the business through new strategies and fresh initiatives.
  • Business executives aren’t committed to change. They want better results, but they’re not sure how to get there. When you don’t know which way to turn, you stick close to home.
  • Doing new things is hard. Everyone who has ever tried to get fit, lose weight or quit Facebook knows how hard it is to shake established behaviors. And of course, getting teams to change is like pushing glue.

To overcome this inertia, everyone has to improve their game. Executives have to take their leadership obligations seriously: to stand still is to court irrelevancy. They can increase their chances of success through a technique called visualization: Focus on the goals you want to achieve. Once you know how great that result looks and feels, you’re more likely to push through the obstacles to achieve it.

But consultants and advisors have to step up too, by creating more dynamic, less complex plans that reduce the risks of change, and encourage clients to move forward rather than stand still.

Above all, both sides – clients and advisors – have to focus more on shared objectives and building trust. Executives have to understand that planning is easy; implementation is hard. And advisors have to realize that a plan left on the shelf is a failure on their part.


At Re-Ignite, we focus on doable projects that get results because they’re practical and get implemented. Give us a call if you’re ready to leap forward.

Just think how jealous your competitors will be. (See? Visualization works!)

How can we help you?

Contact us for a free, confidential conversation on growth, new directions and business transformation.