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Common Pitfalls of Change (Initiatives)

A Common Pitfall

62% of global leaders surveyed in study conducted by The Economist stated that lack of buy-in from middle managers or executives or both are a significant barrier to change.

The Economist's studies are not alone in their findings that reveal the Frozen Middle can be a detriment to your change goals. A Top Global Bank, studies by Accenture and Amazon, Harvard Business School & Review and CIO Magazine found empirical evidence or stated the same conclusion.

“The frozen middle will resist change like death.. Figuring out how to deal with the frozen middle...” is paramount to enabling change, according to Maile Carnegie, former Google Executive and ANZ Bank's (one of the world's largest bank) Chief Digital Transformation Officer. "Regardless of what initiative the CEO chooses for the company, the middle management team will determine whether it is a success or failure..." according to Harvard Business Review's Jonathan Byrnes. CIO (Magazine)'s Iain Smith said, "Middle managers are blockers: the "frozen middle" that causes businesses to fail by blocking necessary changes...The solution is invest more time listening to and working with them."

To learn how to manage this common pitfall, learn about the techniques described in How do you bring everyone along your change journey.

A Second Pitfall

Another pitfall is not having the right change management expertise to steer the change (Figure 1, #14). To manage a major initiative like you do business-as-usual (BAU), a business unit or department, is to set your change up for failure. Any business-as-usual function or organization, no matter how large, is far less risky to manage than a major initiative because an initiative is inherently complex, uncertain, and every aspect of operating the initiative is time-boxed or time-sensitive. Initiatives, unlike operations, have a set start and end date. Project end-dates can only be rescheduled and deferred so much before it starts costing the company substantially more financially, and in physical and human resources. Managing a large or major initiative requires a different type of skills and temperament than managing a business unit that is stable and predominantly mature. It requires leaders and individuals who can cope with massive change rapidly, resilient to naysayers and resistance to change, who can execute despite ambiguity and uncertainty, who can achieve results despite wavering support, constant shifting of gears and competing priorities, who can remain positive and optimistic and be able to cope with a high level of stress and pressure cause by a multitude of factors unique to project environments including large numbers of time-sensitive tasks and volumes of interdependencies that must be managed. These are talent who are skilled in constantly inspiring, motivating and lifting the spirits of those dissuaded by the impending change.

Other Common Pitfalls

Figure 1 shows some of the common pitfall themes. These themes are based on 100+ case studies, research studies, and collective experiences of seasoned change management advisors and experts.

Common Pitfalls of Change

To learn or gain insights about these and other common pitfalls, contact us.

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