Newton’s 1st Law of Business

One of the key elements to a successful business lies within the laws of physics. Between Galileo and Newton, the Law of Inertia (Newton’s First Law) was developed to explain how bodies behave. Interestingly, while inertia is not directly measurable, it can be calculated, and it is critical in describing outcomes and fundamental in determining behaviour. The principles of this theory are overwhelmingly relevant in business.

We should not confuse inertia with momentum. Momentum is a measure of how quick you’re moving relative to mass. Inertia is how much force is needed to impart change, or similarly, how resistant it is to change. It’s inertia that needs to be monitored to ensure it’s not detrimental to your business.

While most businesses see momentum as desirable, consideration is needed towards the resulting impact on inertia. The momentum a business can experience may often hide the dangers of building inertia.

Using Newton’s 1st and 2nd Law as the analogy, business inertia can be explained. Bodies with large inertia require a great deal of force to move. Without the application of enormous force, bodies of large mass take a long time to slow down, speed up and more importantly, change direction. Large inertia can make organisations slow to react. With the same level of inertia, adding mass slows them down.

Hence, business inertia is an important characteristic in predicting outcomes and assessing behaviour.

Managing inertia, while maintaining momentum, is one of the keys to success.

So did Newton have a deep understanding of business? I’m not sure. Does his theory relate to business as much as it does to physics? Absolutely.