What are the roadblocks of change?

John P. Kotter, in his latest book  A Sense of Urgency [Harvard Business Press, 2008] cites two reasons why, by his calculation, 70% of Business change either fails to deliver or is never instigated in the first place. These two reasons are complacency and false urgency.

He believes that complacent people do not realise they are complacent and that they believe someone else is responsible for solving the challenges the business faces. Kotter goes on to describe complacent people as tending to avoid leading and trying to maintain the status quo. He describes false urgency as being created by people who are very active but not necessarily in meeting the challenges of their company. They tend to be stressed, tired and feeling the weight of too much expectation. They typically spend too much time in meetings where people are more interested in making themselves look good than in meeting new challenges.

Kotter describes true urgency as being fueled by the belief that the world contains great opportunity among the challenges.

If you, like me, are proactively seeking new challenges, have gut instinct and determination to take a challenge head on and win then I reccomend you read this book and find out how to remove complacent and false urgency from situations where urgency is required… How to find opportunity in a crisis.

About Peter Borner

Peter is an entrepreneur and successful business leader. Currently leading a consultancy firm specialising in technical diligence for M&A and advising global firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies.

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1 comments
Keith Place
Keith Place

Furthermore to Peter's view of roadblocks of change... Complacency in business brings with it an acceptance of the ordinary, the average or even under-performance. I am sure there are many management teams that suffer from this affliction. Acceptance or recognition amongst the management team that we must change in order to achieve our desired business goals is a fundamental pointer to the fact that complacency is on its way out. Once we have established this subtle change in our management thinking we can raise the profile of the required change by demonstrating the risk of doing nothing; ie revealing the 'burning platform' (true urgency). Through the true urgency that this burning platform provokes we can embed the attitudes and behaviours necessary to make real change happen and continue to happen.
Businesses must now also recognise that change has a context and pace of its own. The False Urgency highlighted by Peter's blog is often demonstrated by those people who do not read the context..they respond to gradual changes in the competitive landscape in the same way as they would to an unforseen economic collapse...for them everything has the same urgency requiring the same pace of change. Clearly this will cause confusion and demoralisation in the workplace.
I have found 'Policy Deployment' to be an excellent tool for helping businesses to prioritise and ensure that they are putting resource and focus behind the right things and not just everything!
I refer you to 'Plan to Win',Turning Business Strategy Into Success, as a good working guide to policy deployment (Steve Smith, ISBN 0-7494-2847-3).