CHANGE AHEAD – GET READY FOR WAR! Learn about your enemies

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October 14, 2014 by Greg Wisniewski

Does your company have more managers who believe they have the right answers to business problems than the ones being able to implement them in an efficient manner? Has it ever happened that you managed to rearrange the concept to satisfy one of them, just in time to be able to listen to completely opposite ideas of his successor? Are you familiar with political games you need to play in order to get something done? This sounds like daily business to so many of us, isn’t it?

Now, how many of us heard about change management being mentioned as a competency required to lead successfully and to bring about the change?

Is it political environment on the top of employee resistance that stops many managers from being true leaders of change, implementing new ideas for everybody’s benefit? Or is it rather the lack of awareness of what is going to happen and which obstacles need to be conquered?

 Change makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old regime, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new.

These words of Niccolo Machiavelli put me really into the battle mood therefore let’s try to find out something more about the enemies to be faced to make a quick plan of the battle. Let’s have a look who do we have to get ready for:

  • Complacency

Please don’t underestimate the power of complacency in the organization, ever. Status quo for many people is a comfort zone they don’t want to leave anymore unless…

…unless new is inevitable.

Let’s take the last financial crisis – do you really think that all companies were seriously suffering during last financial crisis? Or maybe some of them used social acceptance to do the things they wanted to do already for a long time but didn’t have enough courage to face all the obstacles. The crisis (real like in my example or artificial –i.e. aggregated bad news to present the situation in the darkest possible colours) lowers the resistance of affected environment and things are getting easier as there is always more serious, dangerous alternative in the air …

  • Lack of vision

Clear, easy to understand and appealing answer to the question why we should change? If you can’t explain it to the child in five minutes and get him to understand it you need to go back to re-work your vision.

  • Lack of sufficient support – top to bottom

Although there are some examples of real “one-man-show” successful leaders I consider them to be rather exceptions confirming the rule. The time needed for one person to impact large organization is longer, than the time you usually have. Identify all possible influencers and get as many as possible to really support you – not only to tap you on the shoulder, but get them to “walk your talk”.

  • Keeping obstacles blocking new vision

If something in not in line with vision must be eliminated. You cannot be “a little bit pregnant” so you either create the new or allow the old to stay.

  • Mixing short-term wins with the victory (declaration of success that hasn’t come yet!)

This is the reason for existence for all the consulting companies all over the world. Usually there are several attempts to implement the change internally, assigning cross-functional team within the organization before giving-up, or taking “professionals”. Professional consulting company in many cases indicates what we more-less know already or could find out internally. The difference gets visible later, because they take the actions in much more structured way – as dealing with change implementations is core business for them. Unfortunately as soon as first results are seen by top management they pull the plug to avoid another high bill from external experts celebrating the victory…

… usually too early!

As the transformation has not been finished yet sooner or later old habits are getting back as the new has not been anchored yet and the whole cycle starts again.

  • Forgetting that the change needs to anchor in corporate culture

There is a long way from getting things done new way for few times, to “this is the way we do business here”. To make the change stick you need to make sure that everything is in line with new concept – from recruitment, training to processes description, procedures. Build on the changes.

  • Under-communicating…

It is so often the main cause of failure that I believe the under-communication needs to be highlighted as the most powerful opponent we will have to fight with.

The best single sentence highlighting the importance of it has been used by George Bernard Shaw:

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

and let’s leave it for a moment like that as getting into the details is a topic for another article.


7 biggest enemies have been listed of which – I believe – none can be ignored. Being aware of them is one thing but creating the plan of implementing change taking each of them into consideration is a different story. As usual.


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