If your organisational culture has these five characteristics, all attempts to implement strategic change will likely be doomed.
Dr. Quy N. Huy, a strategy professor at INSEAD identified five main emotion-based barriers to strategy execution within organisations. Each one presents a major danger to transformational efforts by preventing the necessary sense of urgency and commitment to a common task from taking hold throughout the organisation.
- Mistrust and low sharing of useful and timely information – A “politics first” mentality that prizes appearance management above action. This causes a situation where no one wants to be the bearer of bad news. As with Microsoft, Nokia and probably Volkswagen, problems will come to leaders’ attention only when it is too late. Strategic alignment is further hindered by information-hoarding among players who see their colleagues as competitors.
- Low receptivity to effortful change – Effortful change (even when it’s obviously beneficial, e.g. quitting smoking or staying on a diet) is easy to profess, difficult to do. Leaders must demonstrate their own willingness and ability to change before asking it of others.
- More talk than action, then misaligned action – As I suggested above, communication for intellectual understanding does not elicit emotional engagement to implement the new strategy. When leaders fail to inspire the collective toward a common goal, each team will tend to veer off in its own direction. It becomes impossible to integrate all the silos.
- Mechanistic action – When under high time and performance pressure, employees become creatures of habit rather than taking risks to become innovative.
- Complacency – Confronted with the potential effort and risk of strategic change, the organisation as a whole believes the status quo is good enough, so why do the hard work to change it?