Most everyone who has worked in a large corporation has learned to dread new initiatives involving “strategic change”. It’s not because the need for the change fails to be compelling (management usually does a good job of making its case), nor is it an intense desire to maintain a painful status quo. The main reason is that nine times out of ten the change involves placing additional demands on the corporation and its staff; rare is the organization that abandons exiting work or initiatives to maintain equilibrium and sharpen focus on the new direction.
So why does this happen so frequently and why do so many sharp and experienced executives make this mistake? Nick Tasler, CEO of Decision Pulse, thinks he knows why. Writing for the Harvard Business Review, he also warns executives to avoid “trickle down” change, which occurs when the leader punts the decision of allocation of resources to conflicting directions to subordinates. Kicking the can down this road wastes time and energy as it is unlikely that all senior managers will make the same decisions. What may sound wise in the conference room is really misalignment at the outset.
Let’s face it. Change is not easy except for very few people. Most, including executives, will often go so some length to hedge their bets or send other less than decisive signals to their subordinates. Discussions regarding trade-offs are very hard, being very taxing both intellectually and emotionally. Effective leaders learn how to navigate these waters and achieve desired changes faster and more effectively.