Organizational Change Readiness: Entrepreneurs hold back Change

Organizational change readiness. Entrepreneurs can hold back change because they are not ready to change, personally.

Written by Ian Richardson

November 13, 2023

Organizational Change Readiness: Entrepreneurs hold back change

By Ian Richardson, Principal Consultant, Fox & Crow Group

Organizational Change Readiness starts with the entrepreneur

Organizational change is hard. No qualifier here – we expect change to be “easy-peasy lemon-squeezey” when in reality change is “difficult, difficult, lemon difficult”. Getting an organization “ready” for change uses resources. It takes:

  • time
  • communication
  • consistency
  • focus
  • dedication
  • effort
  • planning
  • forethought…

I can go on for quite a while with that list. The thing about it is that organizational change readiness begins with the entrepreneur. If the leadership is not ready to change parts of the organization then change will fail.

Examples help. There was a software company that wanted to speed up their sales that reached out for help. They had spent money on a multitude of tactics.  They experience repeated false starts. The owner concluded they needed a “sales process” to help their organization succeed.

At first glance, sounds like a solid conclusion.

Assessing their sales organization, we discovered there was a complete lack of structure. Accountability was absent. Documentation scattered across many systems. No semblance of order or quality controls were in place. It didn’t stop at sales – the whole of the organization was a hot mess.

The Entrepreneur didn’t want to hear it.

“I just need a sales process, let’s build that to start.”

Spoiler for that leader: Process doesn’t do jack if you won’t hold people accountable. They didn’t want to have to change their organization; they were looking for a “quick fix.”

If there is one thing I’m positive of after 20 years of industry experience it is that quick fixes don’t exist.

Entrepreneurs hold back change at their organizations

If you’re convinced you “need one thing” to succeed, you’re in danger of becoming the problem. Entrepreneurs hold back change at their organizations all the time, intentional or not.

Western businesses have a tendency to adopt a “speed-driven approach.”

(See my article Business Perspective is your first step for more about this topic)

When it comes to problem solving or change management – we have a need for speed. “How can we do this as fast as possible?” is a question that fills a room, even if it’s not said out loud.

When confronted with challenges, entrepreneurs can stick their head in the sand. Much like the cartoon ostriches we grew up with on Saturday mornings as children.

This “change avoidance” will kill your business. Look no further than the sad tale of Sears for a prime example. Near turn of the millennium, Sears had market-wide dominance. Their balance sheet was strong. The company had cash reserves that they could use for a bold new online strategy.

The concept was simple. Turn the Sears Catalog into an online system. They had 100 years of American Consumer loyalty to build upon. They didn’t even have to build the online catalog. Amazon.com was still in its infancy. Jeff Bezos had positioned the company as an acquisition target for Sears early on.

The leadership at Sears ignored the change needed to pursue such a strategy.

The thought of that sort of seismic shift was “not necessary”. Now Amazon is one of the most valuable companies in the world, and Sears is a footnote in history books.

Organizational Change dictates success

I partner with Paterson Center when guiding organizations in pursuit of their vision. I use the StratOp© toolset with my clients to help create the plans for achieving that vision. We also achieve alignment around change required to support their future success.

One of the core principles, principle 9, is “Constant Adaptation.” If you’re not willing to change you’ll stagnate and die.

You have to be Amazon versus Sears to succeed.

Embracing organizational change dictates success, and it starts with the entrepreneur.

If you’re struggling around change, I’m here. Book a time to chat through what you feel is holding you back and let’s find a path forward together.

I also discuss topics like this in my newsletter – you can sign up here

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