If we know where to go, why is change so difficult? There are a variety of obstacles that companies may need to overcome and that may hinder their efforts to achieve successful change. These hurdles are as diverse as the companies they come from. The following three obstacles are typical of some of the issues managers and supervisors face today when trying to implement organizational change.
Consider these three obstacles to successful change to determine if any of these are operative in your department, situation or within your team.
Responsibility for a group that reports to someone else
It is very difficult to be responsible for improvement initiatives for a group that does not directly report to you. Even if you have the best intentions, the group may perceive that you are interfering where you do not belong. As an outsider, you appear to know little about the real issues and how they can best be solved. This will make it difficult for you to gain support from the group.
Lack of senior leadership support
One widely held belief is that to achieve visible change, the support of senior management is needed. This belief makes sense for a variety of reasons and is frequently used as a lever to get senior managers on board. Just as frequently, however, it is used as justification by middle managers to abdicate responsibility for ownership of their functions or as an excuse for an unsuccessful change initiative. It is important to have senior leadership support. We should not overlook the fact that leadership occurs at many levels and change can occur at many levels.
Operating in a functional organization
Many organizations still face the problem that they are organized in silos instead of along cross functional lines. These groups are focused solely on their own functional area without any interaction with the groups that are upstream or downstream in the overall process. This type of organization prevents individual groups from playing a part in the end to end processes that directly serve the customer base. A hierarchical system can promote a culture where competing groups battle against each other instead of working together to initiate improvement efforts that will meet the needs and expectations of customers.
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