What Does It Take to Overcome Inertia?

In this recent post I wrote about how customers can be an obstacle to change. But inertia has been on my mind more generally, too.

I’ve come to the conclusion that if an organization knows only traditional contract language and the copy-and-paste process, rational arguments won’t be enough to coax them into change.

More specifically, I’ve found that providing an organization with a detailed analysis of the shortcomings in one of its templates is unlikely to serve any purpose unless the organization is primed for change. Similarly, making a pilgrimage to an organization’s offices to explain why they’d benefit from overhauling their contracts is a waste of everyone’s time unless the organization is able to give me beforehand a clear sign that they’re willing to take the discussion seriously.

You can find on this site no shortage of material explaining who I am and what I do. (For example, there’s my “before” and “after” versions of a master professional services agreement; go here.) That should be enough to allow you to decide whether you want to seriously discuss whether I can help to put your contract process on an efficient footing.

But the broader question is what determines whether an organization is able to overcome inertia. I’m dimly aware of a vast literature on the subject, and I know that there are no pat answers.

I can think of some necessary factors: The organization has to be under pressure, but still have sufficient resources to effect change. And it has to have strong centralized control, so as to be able to overcome the urge to protect your turf and stick with what you know.

But those factors are perhaps not sufficient. Maybe you also need that intangible, the vision thing.

If you have any ideas, I’d be happy to hear them.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.