Large Process Forces

We may have to battle against, or work with forces inherent in processes.

“The wreck of an old ship lies jutting out on the rocks. It is a sad sight, even though the tragedy took place  so many years ago, it stirs my feelings and send my imagination back to that time when this ship, battling  against strong winds and driving rain, wash dashed upon those dark rocks which today, look so peaceful,  almost inviting me to climb upon them and get a better view out to sea.”

Some processes tend to run down unless we put more energy into them. For example, if we don’t keep winding up a clockwork clock, it will run down and there will be no cuckoos! There is an inherent force in nature where things tend to ‘run down’ unless energy is put into them. Another law of nature involves momentum. For example, a snowball rolling down a mountain gains momentum as it rolls downwards. Soon the snowball may become so forceful that no human resisting force can stop it!

Yet another force in nature seems to be that things, when they become more complex, start to exhibit ‘chaotic’ properties. There are so many different relationships and interactions that it becomes impossible for us to predict exactly what will happen next. These forces in nature are, in a way, ‘relentless’. They crop up everywhere and all we can do is work with them, try to manage ‘in them’.

Story time

Many firms have attempted to resist the forces of progress and technological change. Firms in the electronics sector that didn’t  update their manufacturing equipment in the seventies and eighties soon went out of business.

Firms in the telecommunications sector that were slow to react to digital technology soon lagged behind competitors. In management, many firms fail to understand the emerging complexity of communication processes as their organisations grow  and develop.

Also as managers get older and enter their fifties and sixties, many do not accept the physical need to ‘slow down’ and many soon  succumb to stress and even suffer strokes. Factories who do not spend enough on maintenance of machines, which inevitably succumb to processes of ageing and decay, soon suffer machine breakdowns. Train operators that do not maintain their rolling  stock adequately soon inevitable succumb to serious accidents and death and injury for their passengers and staff.

When Concorde was recently grounded, many experts pointed to the inevitability of the accident. “It was only a matter of time.”

And soon Concorde will be no more.  And now Concorde is no more…!

It can be a critical skill to be able to identify the larger forces at work in all processes.

Activity: Process forces bingo

Below is a list of ‘large’ forces that affect most organisations. Take a walk around your organisation with the list be- low and tick off each item and write in an example as you find it. When you have an example of each force and ticked them all off, you have a ‘full house’!

The list large forces that affect processes

1. The ups and downs of the regional, national and international economy

2. Changes in tastes and fashions

3. Developments in new technology

4. Changes in the earth’s environment e.g. global warming

5. Changes in politics, the government and its policies

6. Changes in regional, national and international law

7. Changes in the ‘mood’ of the nation or world


Sometimes the large forces are at play and need to be understood and coped with.


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