Change can be tougher than expected

SAN FRANCISCO —        President Barack Obama told supporters on Thursday  he is pressing ahead with his agenda in a difficult political environment in  Washington and that “change turned out to be a lot tougher than expected” (Julie Pace, Associated Press, 2011)

It appears that President Obama is beginning to learn a lesson that many Project Managers have learned.  Changing an organization is difficult; regardless of the plans made, the leadership shown, or the agreements in principle before the start.

Not all projects involve organizational change, However,  when changing processes, organizational alignments, or long-held procedures the project manager needs to assume from the start that it will be more difficult than was described when the project was thought up.  People and organizations change very reluctantly, especially when the ‘to be’ environment is unknown – such as a new ERP system.  Then, once the change is initially impressed on the organization, people will look for ways to bend, slide or squeeze back to the old familiar way of doing business.  Organizational change projects often take more effort than is often assumed at the start.

President Obama is a current example, leaders often underestimate the amount of work and time necessary to drive organizational change.

If I only had a dime for every time a corporate or government senior manager said to me “It should be easy”.