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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin

๐—ข๐—ฟ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—–๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ: ๐—™๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฌ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐—™๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—Ÿ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—น ๐—จ๐—ฝ

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

โ€œChange is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.โ€

- James A. Belasco and Ralph C. Stayer

Tactically, altering how the business operates and functions can be a rigorous process. Emotionally, ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜†๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐˜† ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜€ ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ.

Startups can go through pivots. Even when change is highly desired, itโ€™s human nature to resist. Change forces us to break habits and feel the stress of uncertainty.

๐—ฃ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜€

Resources, roles, responsibilities, and expectations drastically change. Often, the entire company and many people are impacted.

In order to apply organizational change properly, take these steps:

๐˜๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ง๐˜บ ๐˜ข ๐˜ค๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ณ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ. Identify the driving force, the desired changes, and the expected outcome. Also, admit the risk of not changing.

๐˜–๐˜ธ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ. Describe why change is important on a personal level to encourage commitment during stress. Designate someone to coordinate resources and vigorously communicate throughout.

๐˜”๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ท๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด. Communicate to everyone impacted (team, clients, partners, and vendors) and understand their motivations. Take time to address all questions even before starting the process.

๐˜ˆ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฑ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜จ๐˜ฉ๐˜ต ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ด. Ensure teams have the skills, tools, and capacity for success. Expect additional work on top of the regular functions and accommodate (e.g. pause other projects).

๐˜Š๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ. Fundamentally, itโ€™s hard to change*. An outsider can challenge current process and provide alternative solutions, and also improves accountability.

๐˜›๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฌ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜จ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜ฑ๐˜ต. Set expectations beforehand and measure regularly. However, if delays happen, take the time to revisit the long-term goals and to support the team.

๐˜Š๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฃ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด. Since the outcomes may take a long time, recognize significant progress and great ideas along the way.

๐—ช๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด๐˜€ ๐—š๐—ผ ๐—ช๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ด

Despite the best intentions and efforts, things can still go wrong. According to a McKinsey study**, 70% of company transformations fail. Here are a number of potential challenges and remedies:

๐™‚๐™š๐™ฉ ๐™™๐™ž๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™–๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™š๐™™. While organizational change is meaningful, it can be slow, tempting high-energy founders to focus on other areas.

Remedy โ€“ find someone else responsible, persistent, and patient to own the project.

๐™๐™–๐™ž๐™ก ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™˜๐™ฉ. Stakeholders are not convinced of the value of change causing issues with engagement and support.

Remedy โ€“ offer multiple channels for feedback, including groups, emails, and 1:1 meetings.

๐™‡๐™ค๐™จ๐™š ๐™ข๐™ค๐™ข๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ช๐™ข. Even after you planned and implemented effectively, the change may feel like itโ€™s taking forever.

Remedy โ€“ recognize frustrations while keep educating people on the value and progress.

๐™‰๐™š๐™š๐™™ ๐™ง๐™š๐™จ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง๐™˜๐™š๐™จ. On top of normal work, the team may demand extra resources.

Remedy โ€“ invest in success by getting temporary resources while limiting transition time to manage costs.

๐™Ž๐™ช๐™›๐™›๐™š๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ง๐™š๐™จ๐™จ. All of the above can negatively impact peopleโ€™s mental health. Transitions cause ambiguity and exhaustion.

Remedy โ€“ address concerns both in your words and by actions (e.g. an extra day off to celebrate the transition).

Organizational change is powerful across strategy and tactics, a tough combination for most leaders. The strain needs to be matched with outsized attention, resources, and patience.

The right financial, planning, and mental investments in organizational change lead to incredible long-term benefits.


* If you consider change on a personal level, top athletes and leaders rely on coaches and trainers to build and repeat success.

** McKinsey study:

Photo by Sammie Chaffin who can be found here:

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