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6 common change obstacles and how to overcome them

  • The Stratecution approach, developed by Influence together with our clients, is a proven concept when driving strategic change both in public and private sector.

  • In this part of our Stratecution insight series, we will explore the typical obstacles and pitfalls we meet in our daily work and how we overcome them.

#1 A not fully internalized “why”

Far too often, we witness change initiatives where the “why” (i.e. the fundamental and meaningful reason behind the change) is not internalized throughout the organization. An unclear “why” will result in misaligned decisions and actions throughout the transformation. It also leads to the people in the organization lacking a guiding compass for their own decisions and continuous navigation. To tackle this, a distinct and convincing “why” needs to be developed and formulated by the transformation management. But even more importantly, the “why” needs to be conveyed and correctly interpreted by the organization as a whole. By creating collectively intelligent teams that continuously use the why to guide their actions and decisions, the direction of the transformation and inner motivation in the organization can be ensured.

#2 The plan lost its magic

Another challenge is to keep revisiting the plan as the transformation unfolds. Change is stressful where administration and day-to-day work will occupy a large share of the change agent's attention. As a result, it is easy to lose sight of the original purpose of the transformation. By systematically and continuously moving between the layers of strategic planning and execution (further described here), both parts can be updated and iterated along the way. Ensuring a frequently adjusted plan as well as a well-aligned and engaging execution.

#3 We wanted to improve but forgot to train

We often believe that change is possible to achieve without training for it. This is rarely the way people approach running a marathon for example. Change is not different, it requires new skills, discipline and endurance. In the same way that we can get experienced and skilled in a certain work method, we can make the state of change into something we enjoy and thrive in. As change is getting increasingly constant, we must deal with it and train more frequently. Through organizational training of microsystems with Collective Intelligence as a framework, we not only develop the right skills and abilities. We also keep the plan alive and internalize the narrative and “why” behind the change.

#4 Not planning for the afterlife of the change

A frequent issue when driving change is projects that are gradually losing their momentum toward the end. Either because the driving human capital has left or since the deliverables haven’t been put to use - the project might be done on paper, but we can’t capture the expected effects. We often find that many projects do not adequately leverage resources throughout the organization and instead becoming too dependent on individuals or the change team. Mobilizing the receiving organization from day one is key, both for direction and sustainable results.

#5 Forgetting where the change actually takes place

Many transformations set out to change either structural components of an organization or the behavior of its employees, the two layers of the organization. An experienced change agent understands that these layers always relate to one another - change one and you have to change the other. What is often neglected is that true change happens between these layers – in the formal and informal coalitions of people, in meetings and by the coffee machine – we call them Microsystems. To successfully drive true change, we must identify, prioritize and empower these microsystems since it is here the true work is carried out.

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

Another insight is that many organizations are getting overwhelmed by the sheer pace of change. We can no longer unfreeze and refreeze the organization after a change – change is constantly happening. Yet many organizations view each change as a distinct and discrete initiative, rather than a continuous process we constantly have to live with. The true key is to not only live with it but see change as a core skill, that has to be built and developed over time in the organization and that can give us a sustainable competitive advantage.

Are you thinking about how the Stratecution approach can help your ongoing transformation or change initiative?
Please, contact our consultants for more information.
Niklas Söderberg
Oskar Björs
Viggo Bülow