I see two big overlapping barriers to change in most of the organizations that I have worked at. Btw, statistically about 70% of change efforts fail across the board. I am sure there are lots of unique reasons in the different organizations but back to the two themes I see repeatedly.
1.“I’ll change as soon as I see others changing”. This happens on so many levels. Lower levels of management waiting for the mea culpa and/or the 10 tablets to come from the senior executive team. The executive team members waiting for their boss to make his or her personal changes first. This plays out across all the organizational silos as well. On the other hand I have been asked many times to develop a higher level of leadership in managers….but not to include the CEO or the senior team. This is related to the one below. Install this fancy new training program with our direct reports, and the world will change. Won’t happen.
2.Once we install this shiny new object (technical or training intervention) we will all be more effective. SO many executive teams want to approach change as if it is a technical challenge and problem, when it is actually a personally adaptive challenge. Starting from the top— old habits have to be surfaced, looked at, challenged, discarded, and new ones developed and then supported and reinforced during their difficult infancy until they become a new norm. Then if you want to support this with technology change, with a stewardship coming from the top, well then maybe you can slip into the 30% change success rate
At whatever level you are at in the organization, the only thing you can control is you. Once there is an agreed upon change that is required, the first question should always be, how do I contribute today to the undermining of this keystone change, and what is the one big thing I have to personally change to align with this organizational change?