How Do You Help Leaders See the Change That Is Needed?

For today’s post, I am wanting the readers’ responses to help fill in the gaps on this topic.  It is one that I struggle with and thought a discussion here might be good.

What do you do when change is needed but no one will change?

I know.  The question seems pretty simple, right?  Leave the situation because it won’t get better.  People can be so stubborn so why fight it.

It isn’t that simple.

An organization is struggling mightily.  Going the way of GM in the early 2000’s.  Everyone in the organization sees the need for change and agrees that change is needed.

Not small change.  Big change is needed.  A different way of seeing and executing the business.

Lean is being “implemented” in the organization, so the leaders sanction a team to review a process and come up with a better way of doing the work.  The team develops a “new” process.  The process is the same as they are doing right now but with a technology fix.  When pushed by lean change agents to look for bigger change the team says they are good with what they have described themselves as “how we do it today, but with a central storage location.”

This one idea is a great one and on that is much needed but it won’t change the way the organization does business.

The concerning part was doing an interim report out the leaders who sanctioned the work were good with this.  They couldn’t even see all the waste that was left on the table to eliminate.

During the final report out some of the other leaders pushed on some bigger changes, but most of that was due to the lean change agents prepping the leaders to ask the harder questions.

So.  What do you do when everyone agrees dramatic change is needed but no one can see or envision what that might even look like?

I understand that not everyone can see it, but usually they are open to suggestions.  I see this as a leadership issue.  Leaders need to be able to see the change and help build the burning platform.  Some can see it.  But the extra push isn’t there.

What would you do?


Posted on April 30, 2015, in Communication, Leadership and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Curtiss Keaton

    I have been trying to move the needle for 6 years in our huge company. Short term financials and cost reductions are the only thing the leaders will talk about. I’m tired of trying.The 1st option you recemmended is my choice. Big companies have lost sight of creating value and only focus on this month’s and this quarter’s profits.

    • Curtiss, is the company you work for a public traded company? I have seen private companies try to do the right thing and be more patient about it but that is not always the case. Sometimes they try to be patient but in the end nobody has given them anything but the traditional MBA point of view so slash and burn is what they default to doing.

  2. With respect to the central question “What do you do when change is needed but no one will change?”, I’ve concluded that…it’s pretty much impossible.

    I once knew a guy who’d had two heart bypass surgeries…and was still smoking.

    I want to lose 50 pounds. I’ve wanted to lose 50 pounds for a decade. I know how to do it, I know it will be good for me, I know I’ll have a better life in many respects. What can YOU do to get me to lose those 50 pounds that I don’t already know how to do for myself?

    I had a client that agreed it needed a small supermarket for a component. The supermarket need two squares painted on the floor and agreement as to how many pallets of the material needed to be in each square. Everyone agreed that the supermarket would provide substantial benefit. Two years later…no supermarket.

    Managers are either willing to change they’re behavior or they are not. We can help those who are genuinely willing to quit smoking and give up chocolate cake and we can quit working with those who are not. There’s not much in between.

    • Rick, thanks for your thoughts. It is a tough situation and people do need to be willing to change and try new things or something different. So, let ask a little different question. If you are an employee of a company that you believe in and want to see change and survive, do you stick it out and try to make change or do you leave or do you just gut it out and don’t try to make change and see what happens?

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