Team Stuckness as psychological inertia

Psychological Inertia

The psychological meaning of the word “inertia” implies an indisposition to change – a certain “stuckness” due to human programming. It represents the inevitability of behaving in a certain way – the way that has been indelibly inscribed somewhere in the brain. It also represents the impossibility – as long as a person is guided by his habits – of ever behaving in a better way. – Kowalick

Teams are bound by their company culture, practices, prejudices, experiences and beliefs. When on a team, a team construct is developed.

The team creates a system of practices, prejudices, experiences, and beliefs; that is reinforced through time and expertise.

As we impose restrictions, rules, and assumptions, this team stuckness spreads outside of individuals to teams, eventually creating organizational narratives of practice.

  • “That is the way it has always been done.”
  • “You are not allowed to do that!”
  • “Tradition demands that it be done this way!”
  • “You have been given the information, and the information is true.”
  • “We have always done it that way.”
  • “I tried doing it differently once and got written up.”
  • “I’m unsure why we complete that form. It has been here before I started working here.”

The more experience we have more reinforcement of psychological inertia. Once our thinking freezes in place, the friction of innovation and change stops.

Overcoming team stuckness to be innovative Create-Learning Team Building and leadership
Routine Causes of Team Stuckness – Psychological Inertia
  1. Having a fixed vision (or model) of the solution or root cause.
  2. False assumptions (trusting the data).
  3. Language is a strong carrier of psychological inertia. Specific terminology carries psychological inertia.
  4. Experience, expertise, and reliance upon previous results.
  5. Limited knowledge, hidden resources, or mechanisms.
  6. Inflexibility (model worship; trying to prove a specific theory, stubbornness).
  7. Using the same strategy. Keep thinking the same way, and you will continue to get the same result.
  8. Rushing to a solution – incomplete thinking.