“Building and boosting momentum for change”


The progress and success of a change initiative depends on developing momentum for change, which can be described as the energy associated with movement along a new trajectory. While existing research has studied how change leaders establish momentum early on in a change, there is less insight on how lower-level managers can influence momentum over time and turn a trend of waning momentum when a change is underway. I explore these issues through a study of the introduction of lean manufacturing in four business units of a Scandinavian energy company. The study identifies differing trajectories in each unit where the change gains or loses momentum over time. Findings show how lower-level managers in two of the cases successfully deploy different modes of visualization to mobilize people and infuse energy when momentum is low or waning. The paper contributes to literature on organizational change by offering new insight on how lower-level managers can go about to build and boost momentum for change at any stage of a change process. The study also makes a contribution by showing how the use of visuals can enable new or shared understanding and facilitate supportive action that create energy in a change.