A year of work in progress – day 69 (Newton)

Day 69 – 16 April 2014 and day 14 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

This should really have been called:

Newton’s laws of motion and the role of physics in local government part 4

Sir Isaac Newton was a clever man. His laws of motion were first compiled in his work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, first published in 1687. Newton’s laws of motion are three physical laws that form the basis for classical mechanics. They describe the relationship between the forces acting on a body and its motion due to those forces. They have become a fundamental help in our understanding of the universe in which we live.

What Newton didn’t see however as it was a bit before his time, was the role that his laws would play in an understanding of local government and how it works. Here they are:

First law: Every object continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless compelled to change that state by external forces acted upon it. This means that people will either do nothing or keep doing what they have always done unless compelled to change. The phrases ‘we’ve always done it that way around here’ and ‘if it isn’t broken don’t fix it’ arise from this law. It is a universal truth that it takes an enormous amount of effort and hard work to get anything to change.

Second law: The acceleration a of a body is parallel and directly proportional to the net force F acting on the body, is in the direction of the net force, and is inversely proportional to the mass m of the body, i.e., F = ma. This means that the bigger the problem the harder it’s going to be to accelerate it. There is some good news however in that it is much easier to accelerate an object (or plan, or policy) if the body is already traveling in that direction. Shoving or nudging is much more effective than trying to stop a super-tanker.

Third law: When two bodies interact by exerting force on each other, these forces (termed the action and the reaction) are equal in magnitude, but opposite in direction. This is an age old problem obvious to anyone who has worked in local government. If something has stopped even though it is a good idea it is usually because two opposing powers have come into play. One who’s idea it was and one who’s idea it wasn’t. Nothing will happen until a third force is exerted that will shove or nudge some sense into the situation (see second law). Of course you need to find a third force to agree if it was your idea or disagree if it wasn’t.

Today it was back to normal if there is such a thing, with five meetings at County Hall. Taking two days out was worth it but created somewhat of a backlog in the day to day work (or quotidian as we say round here). It was management Wednesday so we had SLT (again) as if we hadn’t seen enough of each other. We used the time to catch up on all of the any other business that had stacked up. At least the shredder didn’t turn up.

In the afternoon I had Steve’s PDP followed by a teleconference with Pete from @OnBrand Partners where we talked about collaboration across the region among other things. Interesting stuff.

Learning points for today: There are many of us who ride the same roads, try a different route; two and a half days with the SLT is probably enough and; it takes two to tango – always.

Today’s enjoyment rating 8/10 – a little tired.

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