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Beyond Inertia to Action

Many companies are prone to inertia and mediocrity during periods of economic uncertainty. They often over-rely on the organizational bureaucracy and systemization that exists to deal with the routine, day-in, day-out items of business such as sales, manufacturing, etc.

When something new emerges, it spans so many departments or levels, it gets confusing and nobody knows what they're supposed to do to move the new project forward.

At this specific time, organizational fluidity is the key factor for business success. The companies that 'win' know how to turn transitional periods into successful growth periods by using specific web-based tools blended with a network of informal, open communications.

Part of the secret to making things happen is placing teams near each other (either virtually or physically or both) and insisting on intense, informal communication. The physical meetings are often held while task force members stand up. There is also frequent peer review of the process with pins and other awards publicity given to especially contributive employees. But the key point is generating positive news and showcasing progress, no matter how modest.

But the big idea to organizational fluidity is 'chunking things up.' This allows small teams (8 to 10 people) to 'get their arms around any practical problem and 'knock it off' - now.

The small, ad-hoc team or task force cannot become institutionalized. Don't let it become just another layer of coordination. It can become the number one defense against the formal matrix structure, which slows things down and dulls your company's competitive edge.

Finally, make sure that the team members have authority and are senior enough to understand the scale and importance of the problem the group exists to solve.

Finally, the task force doesn't exist merely for 'improvement.' That's too timid. This era is ready for your boldest, most disruptive ideas. A task force can exist to 'change the rules.' This is not a time for pursuing preservation, but rather a time to think in much broader ways, to re-imagine what the company and the industry might become.

Give your company new traction with small group dynamics.

Founding Partner of NEWbraska, Lynn Hinderaker, can be reached at

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