The Power of Group Momentum

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With all of the news hype about our “Government shutdown” lately in the news, I have been very interested in seeing the relationship between how individuals act by themselves, and how a group of people act when they are together.  More specifically, which is easier to affect?  For us marketing people, affecting people is our job–so it’s important to know how this works!

We often think of groups of people as these large, slow, ambiguous beings that take lots of motivation to get to do anything.  That’s because changing the whole group does take energy, but some groups respond to changes faster than others.  Why?  I have found that changing the group momentum is all about changing the momentum of the people with the most influence within that group.  The question becomes not so much about how you affect people, but who.

Here’s an interesting video I found that shows 32 metronomes started at random times that end up syncing up.  I think this video not only shows the power of group momentum how much influence each metronome has on the group.

This experiment has these metronomes lined up on a grid, and having about the same amount of “effect” on each other. It takes about 2 minutes for half of the group to do the same thing, and by 3 minutes they are all together. It’s amazing how they all “want” to do the same thing, and how the two metronomes in the corner affected the entire group.


Here’s another clip from Bug’s Life that talks about what a benefit–or threat–one individual can have over your group:

Key Take-Aways about group momentum:

  • Never under-estimate the power of what one person can do (for good or bad!)
  • People want to be in “sync”
  • Change the right people–change the group


  1. on 24.10.2013
    at 12:00 AM

    John – I think you’ve hit on a particularly good insight here! I happen to be engaged in the midst of a certain group project (I think you might be able to guess which) and have been struggling with the very lack of group “sluggishness” that you mention. I’ve tried to jump-start the group myself, but apparently I’m not the “opinion leader” with the motivational power. Any ideas on how to determine who can be the impetus for change and how to get the person to recognize it if he/she hasn’t already?

  2. Bryson Edmonds
    on 25.11.2013
    at 12:22 AM

    This is great post and addresses something that a lot of people wouldn’t even think about. One bad seed can ruin the whole system. For a team to function as it should it is crucial that everyone is on the same page and is working toward the same goal. Also, I like the point that you made about how the right person can sway the group to do positive things as well.

    • John Green
      on 20.12.2013
      at 8:41 PM

      Hi Bryson! It’s really interesting how one person can sway the group for good or bad. I guess that’s where a leader’s intuition comes in to play! Thanks for reading!

  3. on 29.11.2013
    at 8:06 PM

    You hit the nail right on the head. This is a subject not many people really look into but deserves a lot more attention. It is so important for everyone to be on the same page as far as getting things done is concerned. There cannot be division or slacking if there are goals to be accomplished.

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