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Why Organizations Get Stuck in the Status Quo - and How They Get Out of It

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Why Organizations Get Stuck in the Status Quo - and How They Get Out of It

Too many organizations have fallen by the wayside simply because they didn't see the need to make a dramatic change.

Rick Maurer, author of Beyond the Wall of Resistance, and advisor to leaders on ways to build support for change, identified two fundamental reasons why organizations fail to see the need to change.

We're Successful, No Need to Change

"Once we are successful making something and selling it, it is easy to miss that the world is changing around us and that people may no longer want what we sell," says Maurer.

“Wang made a great word processor, but new personal computers could do that and so much more. U.S. automakers have had many setbacks since the first big gas shortage back in the 70s, and they still tend to be a couple of steps behind the market leaders.” 

We Don't Want to Rock the Boat

"I heard an executive from Harley talk about the old days when quality was plummeting and customers were leaving. I was thinking, 'but certainly you had to see that something was wrong?' And then, as if he were reading my mind, he said, 'The writing was on the wall, but we thought it was a forgery.' Fortunately, Harley changed how it built bikes before it was too late," recalls Maurer.

But Maurer believes the problem can even go deeper.

"Often executives do see the writing on the wall - and it scares them, as it should. But then they fail to communicate that urgency to all those people who need to help them change course."

A few things keep leaders from telling others the truth about the need for change.

They don't want to scare people. Maurer says, "They believe that giving bad news will terrify and immobilize staff. That they'll create a corporation of zombies. Nothing could be further from the truth."

Maurer advises leaders to give people the full story -- and then invite those same people to help them tackle those big challenges. This often unleashes a torrent of energy focused on making the organization stronger.

But even leaders who do want to keep people in the loop often deliver the message poorly.

"The biggest mistake in trying to get people to see that the organization needs to change is to assume that all they need is information." Maurer says that PowerPoint (and other slideshow technologies) often bore people and seldom create any desire to do something as a result of enduring those presentations.

"Making a case is emotional. You can't just show people a burning platform, you've got to make sure they are standing on it and feeling its heat. Most leaders do want to do the right thing, but delivering messages like this weren't covered in grad school.”

Rick Mauer can be contacted at rick@rickmauer.com.

 

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jaipur tour 11/07/2013 23:51:34
Fortunately, Harley changed how it built bikes before it was too late," recalls Maurer.
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