Barriers To Change

 Failure is not fatal unless it is failure to change fast enough.

The rapid and disruptive pace of change is forcing companies to change faster than ever before.  Many attempt to change and most fail.

According to research by McKinsey & Company, about 70% of all changes in all organizations fail. Knowing this one might think that organizations trying to make changes ought to study the reason why others have failed and insulate themselves from failure. 

Failure Is Not A Bad Word, It’s  A Bad Decision

The most detrimental mistake Leaders make is not learning how to effectively lead and manage change.   Change doesn’t happen because the organization has a new strategy with a new vision and mission statement.   First change has to be led and second it must be managed with new thinking.  The new thinking must then create new behavior .  The top four barriers to effective and rapid change are:

1) Lack of knowledge: Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton coined the phrase “the knowing-doing gap” in their compelling book by the same title. They found that there’s a huge gap between what people know and what they do. All that knowledge not being applied, all that talent not being used costs organizations billions of dollars every year. The challenge is to lead the acquisition and use of new knowledge and to enable people to use what they learning more effectively.

2) Lack of skill and practice : When you practice, you get better at it. Yet diligent and deliberate practice is often missing from management education. Many managers confuse knowledge with skill. They enable people to learn new tools and concepts, but don’t give them time to practice to improve their skills.   Skill is the exercise of new knowledge. If case you didn’t already know, unless you exercise repetitively little is gained.

3) Conflicts working against change: Some leaders know what needs to change but fail to lead change.  They continue to assume that managers will automatically follow the new vision for change and engage in leading change. They make the same mistakes over and over which is assuming managers will follow. New change initiatives begin to bog down and every excuse in the book is used to explain why. Something powerful is getting in their way. But what?

Most leaders would say that their number one goal is to help their organization survive, change and flourish. But does every leader recognize what the constraints to change are?

4) Culture working against change: Research shows that leaders of successful changes get people at all levels deeply involved by keeping them in the loop, listening to their ideas, and encouraging them to take ownership for their part of the change. Sadly, many leaders fail to remove the constraint to change before they engage the people to make the change..

It’s as though there are two sets of rules. The “official” set of rules is posted on your walls, listed on your company website, and printed in your employee handbook. You know that list.

Then there’s the “real” set of rules. That’s the one you hear whispered about in hallways… the one you run into when you make the mistake of speaking candidly in a meeting… the one that actually governs how your organization works.

It’s  the real rules that govern your people’s actions.  Change those unwritten rules and you remove the barriers to  change.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Yatman Lai August 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Great post. Organizations often invest in social business technologies thinking it will change the “culture” but find the same dysfunctional behavior persists even after a lengthy deployment effort. The truth is that Social technology, by itself, will reflect the existing corporate culture, changing it requires deliberate and congruent leadership actions.

Reply

Leave a Comment