Resistance to Organizational Change Not Always Visible on the Surface

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The iceberg, floating above and below the water surface, is the perfect metaphor to illustrate visible and invisible factors affecting organizational change efforts.

Many contemporary change management models include recommendations to communicate vision and goals about the reasons for change.  The belief is often held that if people know why change is happening, they will support the effort.  Too often, champions for change are confronted with invisible barriers that threaten to sink change efforts.

Champions are often warned in writings about change management that up to 70% of major organizational changes are at risk for failure.  Knowing the source of the risks could help champions plan to mitigate problems before they become serious.

One of the best illustrations for the iceberg metaphor comes from Torben Rick, a senior European management executive with expertise in change management.

The Iceberg

Unwritten rules, traditions, perceptions and feelings are drivers that may support or sink a change initiative.  Champions are cautioned to understand the issues.  Asking for help to understand the concerns sends a positive message to the organization.  Inviting those affected by the change to help navigate concerns may build much needed political capital to get things done.

Do you have a story about how you’ve navigated an organizational iceberg?  Please share your story with me.

Wishing you smooth sailing on your next change management or implementation journey.

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