Whinging, insecurity, and other roadblocks to change

It sometimes seems to me that everytime I turn on the TV news, I see protestors (or politicians) demanding that an infrastructure project be prevented. We seem to live in the era of the shrill protest. Whinging has moved from people venting their personal irritations, to a spectator sport of epic proportions. Like any sport, there always seem to be someone ready to whip up the crowd, and profit from the situation.

Lend Lease concept for Barangaroo

From remarkably well funded “residents” groups launching legal action to prevent the cleanup of toxic waste in the Barangaroo redevelopment, to building owners suing local councils that build cycle ways.

Lets not forget the long running protest group claiming that secret factories at Fox Studios generate deadly toxic waste which is harming nearby residents, and the successful legal action by another remarkably well funded protest group which prevented the sinking of a decommissioned Navy ship 2km offshore to create a dive site for tourists near Avoca.

Of course, it is easy for politics to complicate matters for government projects, but increasingly I am seeing businesses facing similar challenges and tactics. In many cases, it seems to be a matter of leadership and change management.

A common problem occurs when leadership teams set strategies, and expect employees and stakeholders to simply fall into line. In situations where organisations are large, or many stakeholders are involved, this is a classic recipe for dissent. Internal team members can be some of the most disruptive opponents of change, particularly if they feel insecure.

Incorporating change management processes into your strategic plan is a rather obvious way of reducing risk, with Kotter’s 8 step model being a commonly used top down methodology.

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