Tag Archives: momentum

What Curbed the Enthusiasm?

“Why do you think your Quality Circles program eventually ran out of gas?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Jamie explained, “people just lost interest, I guess.”

“And why did they lose interest?”

“Well, at first, there was this gung-ho enthusiasm. It was new, but eventually the newness wore off.”

“When you look at the Quality Circles program (or any program) that your company developed, what did you design in, to sustain the program?”

Jamie almost chortled. “Design? We figured if it got started, it would just keep going.”

“Jamie, if you could, think back. Exactly how long did it take for the Quality Circles behavior to die off?”

“I remember, pretty clearly, we started right after the new year, but by March, it was over.”

“So, it took two and half months for the behavior to die off,” I guessed. “And you spent a bunch of money on a consultant to show you how to do this?”

“Oh, yeah, we had a couple of books that we had to read, and we had meetings, planning sessions. It was a big production, right down to the costumes.”


“Well, yeah, we had these shirts we were supposed to wear. It was okay, at first, but after a while, people started making fun of the people who wore the shirts.”

“So, there was a great deal of activity, planning and thinking about this beforehand, but not much thinking about what happened after. Jamie, I want you to think long and hard about this sequence.

  • A lot of activity before the behavior
  • Then the behavior
  • The behavior died off.”

Jamie squinted her eyes, clearly imagining the sequence. “So, we did a lot of stuff up front, but didn’t do much on the back end.”

“Yes, so what do you think was missing?”

How to Build Team Momentum Quickly

“Why was it so important that you moved Ralph to a conversation about purpose?” I asked. As a new manager getting pushback from a veteran crew, Julia was working quickly.

“As their manager, I have goals and objectives that I have to reach. I have purpose in my role just like they do. The sooner I can engage the team leaders in a discussion about purpose, the sooner we can find an intersection and get started to someplace new.”

Julia stopped. She knew she had made her point, but there was something else even more important.

“You know, I told you that Ralph seemed proud that the team ran off their last manager in three months? Here’s the thing. I don’t have three months to fail. I have three days to get this turned around and three weeks to show positive results.

“I can’t afford to wait and see. That is why these conversations are so important. And conversations about purpose are the quickest way I know to get there.”