Changes in Organization

I was chatting with a friend of mine, who is experiencing stiff headwinds from assisting his consulting client on implementing an organizational change initiative.

He talked about some of most vocal resistance coming from his client’s peer executives.

His situation reminded me a book, Bare Bones Change Management: What you shouldn’t not do, by Bob Lewis.

In the book, Bob talked about three obstacles when managing change in organizations.

First, people are, for the most part, rational, acting on their own self-interest.

Being a student of Seth Godin, I agree and would further say that people are acting on their internal self-narrative.

Second, employees resist changes because their experience tells them the outcome probably will be unpleasant or not likely in their best interests.

Here I also agree with Bob. I would further assert that many organizational changes rely way too much on the early adopters but fail to cross the chasm to make the change effective or lasting.

Third, Bob asserted that the most significant resistance to change comes from within the executive ranks. Not every executive will see a change sponsored by another peer as a personal opportunity. Some might even see it as a threat.

I believe my friend is battling the third obstacle head-on. The opposing executives perceive the change initiative as an annoyance or even threat.

Every project is easy until you get people involved. There is no shortcut for my friend as he must be vigilant in minimizing resistance and maximizing support for his change initiative.

Bob’s book does offer seven toolkits for managing organizational changes, so I plan to dig into each one of them during the subsequent posts.