Imagine a bold general in front of his troops, commanding the assault against the enemy.
Spurring his horse to assault he dashed.
His troops didn’t move.
It’s more or less how some top executives must feel, when confident about the tactical moves and their overall strategy, they order the decisive manoeuvre but the bulk of the forces does not follow.
In organizations and companies, giving orders and dictating rules and procedures doesn’t guarantee they will be carried out, applied and followed.
Employees nowadays are less obedient than the previous generations were. Today employees want to be associates in every meaning of the word, not only pawns on the big chessboard.
- Today people engage themselves when the purpose is clear, understood and accepted.
- Today most people weigh every change ahead, even small ones, and ask themselves about return on personal investment.
Management turned employees into intrapreneurs, rewarded individual performance, turned many of them into bounty hunters and mercenaries.
The latter go to battle heartily when success is easy and reward alluring, but may stay put or even run away otherwise.
Other internal forces may play against the big plan, like labor unions for example or some influential managers not sharing the chiefs’ beliefs.
Another factor for the mass to move or not is the speed the instructions, explanations or invitation cascade down the pyramid. The larger the organization, the slower usually the diffusion and the greater the risk of distortion as the messages are passed along.
Or it looks like another flavor-of-the-month idea/program/project. Disillusioned staff just waits for the next big idea and goes on like usual, unimpressed by the top fuss.
There are many reasons the mass will not move on, top managers like generals better check about all possible hindrances before throwing themselves head first into the big fight.