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Keep momentum going: Complacency creep

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Kotter’s The heart of change: Real-life stories of how people change their organizations (2002) illustrates the premature victory declaration syndrome in the story “PE Ratios” (p. 144). In “PE Ratios”, the firm does recognize the creeping resurgence of complacency. The change agent looks for other crises or performance measures to show employees that the job is not done and they must not stop. The hub is moved to focus the investor’s point of view with a different goal related to external business factors because the other goal is achieved and without this shift workers are feeling victorious and satisfied. Smaller projects should continue until the complete vision is fulfilled. New entrants, competitors, lean players, and internal smugness can temper competitive advantage.

Tersely stated, “Past success provides too many resources, reduces our sense of urgency, and encourages us to turn inward. For individuals, it creates an ego problem; for firms, a cultural problem. Big egos and arrogant cultures reinforce the nine sources of complacency…” (Kotter, 1996, p. 41). Whether a sports team or a business organization, complacency is exaggerated by the sense of victory, while the ultimate goal may be lost.

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