Change readiness problems within an organisation decrease engagement, lower expectations of success, promote frustration and fear, and impoverish outcomes.

Where do these problems come from? What can be done about them?

Organisations consist of multiple and often complex systems working together. When we attempt to analyse the root causes of change readiness problems, we need to put on our systems thinking hats. We need to look at the organisational system at different levels of complexity.

Problems could exist at the individual level. Personal change fitness could be low, meaning a significant proportion of people in the organisation lack capacity in handling change – most kinds of changes.

Problems could also consist at other levels – in teams, in how the organisation is structured, how communication flows, in the culture, or in how strategy is developed and executed.

This may sound like a nasty mix of potential problems, and it is. But there is an upside.

The decision, usually made by senior management, to start at the bottom and work up is a huge step forward. It shows awareness of the problem and the willingness to seek a solution. I give kudos to senior leaders who take this first step.

But why start at the bottom? Because organisations are made of people and it’s people who struggle with change. Infrastructure and tools don’t mind change – they don’t get stressed if their usage changes, and they will not intentionally undermine a change project. People are the ones who hold the keys to success and failure.

Steve Barlow
Author: Steve Barlow

Steve heads up The Change Gym. He is a change readiness specialist. You can contact him at