Leading Change Requires Patience and Compromise
The battle over the United States' debt ceiling and the government's desire to reduce its colossal deficit have left people bewildered, frustrated and often exasperated. "It can't be this hard, can it?" the public cries.
Any leader who's had to communicate a complex and largely unpopular change – or for that matter even a tweak to operations – understands that it's not easy to get all the critical stakeholders on board with change.
In other words, yes, it can be this hard, especially when there's the degree of distrust and animosity we often in see in the public sector – like that roils beneath Washington, D.C.
Those of us in the corporate world aren't immune, of course, to these issues. How often have we seen clashes between sales and marketing, R&D and finance or, well, HR and almost every department? It happens all the time.
Yet business moves on … but not without some difficult conversations, reluctant compromises and hatchet burying.
Several years ago we worked with a client that was implementing a large-scale enterprise resource management system, one that would fundamentally change how countless people did their jobs. Even though many department and functional leaders understood the need for a more modern approach to manufacturing, they were resistant to how this new system would impact their workflows and their employees. Over time many of these leaders came around and supported the change. Others, of course, never did but knew they needed to get on board with the change or watch the train leave the station.
That's exactly, we presume, what has been taking place in the conference rooms and negotiations in Washington. Coaxing, cajoling, compromising and, in some cases, surrendering. But eventually, (most) everyone comes together.
So even though politicians wrestling over a budget might look like a simple process, just remember how the team reacted the last time your organization changed brands of coffee in the break room.