How to overcome these 6 common change management obstacles

Transformations are not easy. There are many potential obstacles throughout the process. Below we have listed six examples that we often encounter when working together with our public and private clients, while outlining how we tend to overcome these barriers.

#1 The “why” is not fully internalized

All meaningful change hinge upon the “why”. The answer to the “why” is the fundamental reason for the change in the first place. When the “why” is not fully understood within the organization, subsequent decisions and actions risk to become misaligned. Further, it robs the people in the organization of a guiding compass for their own decisions and continuous navigation. To avoid these pitfalls, we work with or within the transformation management to develop and communicate the “why” as clearly as possible to ensure full alignment around it.

#2 The plan lost its magic

Transformations are not linear in nature. The plan needs constant revisiting as the transformation progresses. More than often, the responsible change agent faces a lot of stress in balancing the strategic planning side of the transformation, as well as the day-to-day execution. Subsequently, there is a big risk of losing sight of the original purpose of the transformation. We believe that the best remedy to this is to strike a balance between the layers of strategic planning and execution. An iterative process with frequent revisits of both layers ensures a well-aligned and engaging execution, reducing stress on the agent as smaller deliveries can be planned and executed in a more controlled manner.

#3 We wanted to improve but forgot to train

Change requires training. However, many mistakenly think that it is not needed. Change and transformation require new skills, discipline, and endurance, which, if done properly, can all make the transformation work something enjoyable to thrive in. As change becomes increasingly constant, frequent training and organization that allow for that is needed. Using Collective Intelligence as a framework to develop organizational training and well-functioning microsystems, we can build a sound foundation for continuous learning and be geared for change.

#4 Not planning for the afterlife of the change

Transformation requires care. It is common for change projects to lose momentum in their final stages. There could be several reasons for this, like the responsible change driver is no longer with the company or has changed position, or that the deliverables have not been used as intended. Though the projects has proceeded according to plan, the expected results are absent. We often see that organizations concentrate too much of the transformation work to single individuals or the change team rather than leverage the resources throughout the organization. In order for the change to gain foothold and keep living in the organization after the project is finalized, mobilizing the receiving elements of the organization from day one is key for direction and sustainable results.

#5 Forgetting where the change actually takes place

The structure component and human behavior work in tandem in an organization. These are the “two layers”. When adjusting one layer, the other will also need change in order to create any lasting, effectful change. A common mistake is to focus solely on one layer in the transformation work and expect that other layer to simply follow suit. True change happens between the two layers – in the formal and informal coalitions of people, in meetings, and by the coffee machine – we call them Microsystems. Identifying the microsystems within an organization and ensure the right conditions for these are the best way to create the right prerequisites for true change.

#6 Change is constant, but we don’t plan for constant change

Change is constantly happening. However, many tend to look at each change as a distinct and discrete initiative rather than a continuous process to constantly live in. The true key is to not only live with it but see change as a core skill, that must be built and developed over time in the organization and that can give us a sustainable competitive advantage.