Why is organisational change so difficult?

I am working on a large scale organisational change initiative and was talking with a colleague about what matters most – strategy or implementation?   The issue is that we were asking the wrong question, because they are so interrelated that neither can succeed without the other.

Today I came across a paragraph from John Roberts’ book, The Modern Firm, which sums up the issue nicely and which I trust will give some relief to the new managers in this organisation – that implementation will can be successful, even though there seem to be many roadblocks in the way.

“Strategy can be changed relatively quickly. In principle, a new strategy can be developed and announced in a short time. Organisations, however, show a lot of intertia…organizations cannot be changed as surely and quickly as can strategy. While it is easy enough to change the formal architecture, it certainly takes real time to change the set of people in the firm and the networks among them, to redefine the fundamental beliefs they share, and to induce new behavioural norms. Yet these may be the most important elements to the realization of the strategy.  Thus, effective implementation may not be immediately possible.”

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