7 Potholes that Can Run Your Change Initiative Off the Road

Massive, meaningful culture change IS possible in the business world. Not only is it possible—it happens all the time.

Which is not to say it happens EVERY time. In fact, I’d have to say that most attempts at genuine culture change end up crashing through the guardrail and into the ditch, wheels spinning in the air. Not a pretty picture.

Fortunately the difference between the highway and the ditch is not a matter of random chance. There are a few tried-and-true ways to make sure your well-meaning attempts at change go nowhere fast. Some combination of the following will do it:

  1. Lip service from leadership. It is possible to get an initiative for profound change up and running without full out commitment from the entire team. It’s also possible to keep a body alive when the head’s gone missing. But I wouldn’t recommend trying it at home.
  2. Unwillingness to deal with whiners and gossips. If you don’t get the carping, dysfunctional energy vampires under control, you’re well on your way to the bottom of the sea. Their plan is to create their own “leadership story,” which in turn creates unrest in the troops because they don’t know what to believe. Let them do that and you’ll lose.
  3. Inadequate accountability and reporting structures. If you don’t have a system to track and measure your progress toward goals and achievement of goals along the way, you’ll waste untold energy on the wrong things AND fritter away the effectiveness of the right ones.
  4. No system in place to get over the inevitable hurdles. You WILL hit snags on the way to the culture shift you’re after. You can take all the power out of the whining that accompanies it by letting the team know in advance that hurdles will happen and that your intention is to power through them.
  5. Dissention on leadership team. If you get the feeling that someone sees a personal advantage in the failure of the project and puts that ahead of the needs of the organization, you MUST confront it head-on—or say goodbye to any hope of achieving it.
  6. Middle management breakdown. Planning is great, but without execution, you’re sunk. Maybe your managers don’t know what to do or how to do it. Maybe they are unwilling to implement the plan. Either way, it’s the death of effective change.
  7. A culture of blame and excuses. When things go wrong—and they will, as sure as death and taxes—what happens in your workplace? Do the knives come out and the blame games start? If so, you’ve got a serious and potentially fatal problem, because people who are busily ducking and covering aren’t busy solving the problem.

One Response to “7 Potholes that Can Run Your Change Initiative Off the Road”

  1. You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

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