The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that it is impossible to predict, measure, or know both the exact position of an object and its exact momentum at the same time.
Businesses can use data to predict, measure, and know the exact position of an entity at a moment in time. This information could be used to help an organization correct problems, improve processes, or assist leaders in making a decision about when to bring a product to the market.
The challenge with using this data is figuring out when and where to take action on the recommendations that were gleaned from the data gathering exercise. Now one must consider how to align and synchronize the proposed actions with an organization’s relative momentum. According to Newtonian mechanics, momentum has a direction as well as speed. Where is the business going and how fast?
If action is taken at the wrong moment, then the effort may not have the fully desired effect. Information relevant at one point in time is no longer useful because the entity now occupies a different point in space. The conditions, or context, may have shifted in that time interval that just made one’s recommendations no longer useful.
Experimenting and failing often appears to be how many successful businesses have figured out how to operate in a constantly shifting environment. This is effective as long as leaders keep the larger goals and vision of an organization in mind.
Momentum is defined as the product of mass and velocity. It’s role in organizational development is critical and will be explored further in a future post.