In my Planning Some Changes post, I discussed four different obstacles that any organizational leader could face. Of course, it is not written in stone that every organization will experience the same pains to change, the same severity level or negative reactions. Depending on the manner in which the changes are implemented and the history of previous changes will influence how any new or your next organizational moves are perceived.
This post focuses on three additional factors that could impact your current or future change efforts.
“We are too busy,” can be a valid explanation for deferring a change initiative. A sudden sales increase that requires the focus of everyone involved is a valid reason to defer immediate action. The problem is that very often, as in our personal lives, the things that we are too busy with are often not really important, just urgent. A flurry of activity can make us feel like we are really contributing to the success of the organization. If there are major changes that need to be addressed and everyone is too busy to get to them, then the activities that could really help the organization may be ignored and never fully addressed.
Organizations in the early stages of maturity tend to operate more from a tactical approach rather than from a strategic approach. This often means those decisions about investing in new programs; methodologies, tools, and training are made more often because of budgetary issues rather than by the actual needs of the organization. Many organizations seem to run out of money, with frightening predictability, at the same time every year and put into place across-the-board cost cutting measures like travel, hiring, and training freezes. This seasonal approach to spending can have a negative impact on change and improvement initiatives because the best initiatives will lose momentum and stop. When funding is cut, the focus of team members will be redirected to the crisis of the day.
One of the most potent obstacles to change is success. Associates of many organizations have said “We need to improve in a certain area, but we are so successful that we cannot get anyone’s attention.” They also ask, “Why do they need to change if we are so successful?” The answer invariably is that the success may be a result of a lack of competition or a limited market advantage. If the organization does not begin to make immediate improvements, it could be left behind when the environment changes and the organization cannot match or beat the competition.
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