STEP 5: Empowering Broad-Based Action

Removing as many barriers as possible and unleashing people to do their best work

Structural Barriers

Many times the internal structures of companies are at odds with the change vision. An organization that claims to want to be customer focused finds its structures fragment resources and responsibilities for products and services. Companies that claim to want to create more local responsiveness have layers of management that second guess and criticize regional decisions. Companies that claim to want to increase productivity and become a low-cost producer have huge staff groups that constantly initiate costly procedures and programs. The list is endless.

Many times, these are the most difficult barriers to get past because they are part of the internal structure of the company. Realigning incentives and performance appraisals to reflect the change vision can have a profound effect on the ability to accomplish the change vision.

Management information systems can also have a big impact on the successful implementation of a change vision. Up-to-date competitive information and market analysis, and the ability to communicate powerfully and effectively throughout the company in a cost effective way can speed up feedback loops and provide information necessary for people to do their jobs more efficiently. 

Troublesome Supervisors 

Another barrier to effective change can be troublesome supervisors. Often these managers have dozens of interrelated habits that add up to a style of management that inhibits change. They may not actively undermine the effort, but they are simply not “wired” to go along with what the change requires. Often enthusiastic change agents refuse to confront these people. While that approach can work in the early stages of a change initiative,  by Step 5 it becomes a real problem. Easy solutions to this problem don’t exist. Sometimes managers will concoct elaborate strategies or attempt manipulation to deal with these people. If done skillfully this only slows the process and, if exposed, looks terrible – sleazy, cruel and unfair – and undermines the entire effort. Typically, the best solution is honest dialogue.  


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