Recently, I was giving a sex education talk to a group high school students in our community. The entire three hours that I spent there giving my lecture to three different groups of students, I heard the science teacher remind the students of a formula he had taught them, Momentum (P) = Mass (M) x Velocity (V). I immediately knew what it was and had fun thinking about my high school years. I loved math and physics.
Momentum is a very important concept in physics. For example, force (F) is the rate at which momentum changes with respect to time.That concept alone has numerous applications in jet propulsion and many other things. If you are interested in jet propulsion, wet your tongue with this NASA page that discusses the general thrust equation. In case you are not a fan of physics, don’t worry, you’ll get still get my point.
As I was driving home, it occurred to me that momentum is also very crucial in leading people and organizations to achieve their dream of moving from where they are to where they need to be in the future–the destination captured in their vision.
I wondered, is there a corollary in leadership to the equation Momentum = Mass x Velocity in physics? I think there is. I’ve not seen it anywhere before but here is what I came up with. And I think it captures the essence of momentum within organizations, groups, and teams.
To gain momentum, you have to achieve massive or weighty accomplishments fast and one after the other. When you line up huge victory after victory at a fast pace, it builds momentum and literally raises the morale of your people to start thinking like winners and that increases their chances of success. If you space out your achievements so that they are few and far between, i.e. in physics terms, your velocity (speed) is low, then you don’t gain momentum as well. Your momentum will be low.
From the equation, Momentum (P) = Mass (M) x Velocity (V). If you look at the mass (M) as an achievement, you can say that if your team’s achievement is large, your momentum will be large, if it is small, your momentum will be small. If your team is lining up one victory after another, that is, the velocity or speed in the direction of victory is high for your team, your team’s momentum will increase as well.
If you want to multiply your team’s momentum so that it skyrockets and just rises through the roof, do you know what you’ll need to do? Line one massive victory after another at a fast pace or speed. That’s exactly how any team can build momentum and that formula supports this logic!
Momentum = The Size of wins x Speed of winning.
Remember, just as you can build momentum by lining up massive victories at a fast pace, you can lose momentum fast if you start lining up massive losses at a fast pace.