December 12, 2010

Organizational Politics and Change Initiatives

Change initiatives are easy victims of organizational politics. The real success of any change initiative is not that it takes place but that it sticks. However, many times change initiatives are started with fanfare but are not nurtured in the proper way till the end. They may succeed in getting completed but fail in terms of effectiveness and sustainability.
What are the circumstances which significantly diminish the likelihood of a change initiative to succeed in the real sense?
  • It is initiated at a local level. This means that it doesn't attract enough visibility and even if it manages to attract visibility, it's not considered strategic or significant enough for the business
  • It is led by line or middle managers who don't have funding authority. This means that getting resources will be a constraint at each stage of the initiative. The amount of efforts spent to "get buy-in" and "sell to management" will be tremendous which will make the person leading it and the team involved with it frustrated and demotivated
  • It is performed in a captive environment. This means that the circle of influence is smaller than what is required for a change initiative to make a real difference. The initiative may get completed but end up making no ripples in the organizational waters
  • It is not staffed adequately. This means that the required manpower and bandwidth may not be available to do it in the "right way" to make it stick after the limelight fades out
Interestingly, the above factors are not only an element of the organizational politics but also amplify it further. Egos, legacies, hierarchies, idiosyncrasies, etc. play a crucial role in forming and sustaining the organizational culture. And this manifests itself in the form of organizational politics. Individuals may lose something in the bargain... the organization, unfortunately, looses the most.

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