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Ways overcommitted organisations can self-sabotage successful change


Have you built a family house without their input or seeking a greater understanding of their needs?

Have you built a family house without their input or seeking a greater understanding of their needs?

A family would never invest their life savings into building a home without having an opportunity to contribute and have their say in shaping the final product.

So why do organisations proceed with building solutions with limited engagement and buy-in from those directly impacted?

All too often, project teams express that their greatest challenge is accessing the right people at the right time to contribute to shaping project deliverables. Getting the right people in the room to complete activities such as requirements gathering, process mapping, system testing, and training are non-negotiables.

What’s worse is when projects are forced to trade-off and proceed with solution building with the wrong people in the room. Trade-off are made due often due to the age-old “I’m too busy” or “Can you come back later?” responses.

As experienced change experts, we’re no stranger to the hearing statements like this when meeting with and listening to our stakeholders. While elements of resistance lurk in time-poor verbatim, there is also a lot of truth to it.

These days when you look around, organisations continue piling up their plates, committing to more initiatives than ever before. Subsequently, companies stretch their business-as-usual workforce across various projects in a bid to multi-team. Conceptually, there are many advantages to this approach, including cost-savings and knowledge sharing.

Enablers like remote working, digital technology, and flatter organisational hierarchies make it easier for companies to operationalise multi-teaming. However, when it comes to tactical execution, the stars rarely align, and organisations quickly derail.

These exhausted and overextended resources struggle in the long-term to sustain unmanageable workloads, changing priorities, and time conflicts. The knock-on effect of poorly executed multi-teaming includes compromised business deliverables, skewed project timelines, and eroded change efforts.

Yesterday the family of five knew about their new home, packed up, and were excited to move in. At a glance, their change journey had been successful to date.

When they arrived, the home itself looks good from the street. However, when they explored this two-bedroom, five-bathroom house, it became evident that this new home was liveable but not fit-for-purpose.

The consequence of excluding the family from contributing to activities at various stages of design and build phase has led to a not fit-for-purpose home.

When organisations over-commit and attempt to deliver too many initiatives simultaneously they create change fatigue and sabotage the adoption of all initiatives.

The bottom line is, if organisations cannot commit to assigning resources to projects throughout the entire project lifecycle, the change itself will fail. This failure to adopt the change is not the root cause, instead it is a symptom. The problem usually stems from a solution that was never fit-for-purpose.

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