Slow Flow: Ignore it at Your Peril

“Once we get our new Marketing VP in place and fold the regional Customer Service units under that executive at headquarters, things will finally be settled and everything will be OK.”

But things in any organization are never really “in place,” are they? Our organization charts with a date stamped in the corner fool us. They insidiously pander to our deep human desire for things in life to STOP CHANGING!

I think a healthy attitude for managers and leaders is to see the workplace not as static but, in fact, in a state of slow flow. Organizations are dynamic systems. Forces within and without the company are all interacting, albeit sometimes at an imperceptibly slow pace.

For example, you lose a major customer. In response you decide to let six people go. The rest of the staff start to feel uncertain, unsafe. “What if I am next to be laid off?” Morale drops and negativity rises. Customers start sensing a negative tone and talk coming from your frontline staff. Supervisors discipline a few of these staff members for how they are interacting with customers. Some of the better frontline employees start to look for another employer. In the meantime, all across your company staff are quietly and gradually reevaluating their emotional and rational attachment to their work in your organization.

This is why in my workshops and speeches I really push managers to keep abreast of the current (i.e. always changing) level of job satisfaction, motivation, and engagement of each one of their employees. What they think, feel and do are all important variables in this continuous dance of forces called the modern company.

I mean, a lowly street vendor in Tunisia could no longer suppress what had been building inside him so he burned himself to protest conditions in his country. Now we have an ongoing Arab Spring across the Middle East.

As a leader, pay attention to and remain sensitive and curious about the state of mind of your staff. And be mindful of the slow flow of forces in the company. Never be fooled into believing that things are static, not even for a day.

© 2014 – 2016, Ian Cook. All rights reserved.

Ian Cook About Ian Cook

Ian Cook, presenter and consultant, works with managers who want to increase their effectiveness as a leader and build a stronger team. To book Ian for a training seminar, team facilitation or keynote presentation, call toll-free at: 1-888-FULCRUM (385-2786) or e-mail: For more articles and book reviews of interest to managers please go to: