Resistance to change was the number one challenge that intrapreneurs and social intrapreneurs told us was holding them back. Despite the progress many of them were making in their respective organizations. They felt that resistance created the biggest obstacle to their success.

These were some of challenges they mentioned.

  • Resistance to new ideas and innovation
  • Driving change in a hierarchical organization
  • Resistance from senior executives about the changes that need to be made
  • People who refuse to accept change
  • Resistance, jealousy and misunderstanding
  • Steering change with shared responsibility
  • Resistance to change from team members
  • Getting required changes onto the priority list

Why do we resist change? According to the article Effective Skills of Change Agents, “Individuals and organizations do not resist change; they resist disturbances to their frame of reference caused by change.”

The reality perceived by each individual is filtered by their own frame of reference – their attitudes, expectations, behaviors, emotions, beliefs, values, habits, past experience, education, social styles and so on. Resistance comes from asking people to change their frame of reference.

  • What are you asking them to change?
  • How many things are you asking them to change?
  • What impact will the change have on them?

Organizations also have a frame of reference. The extent to which you are asking an individual or organization to change their frame of reference is related to the level of resistance to that change. You are asking them to revise their vision of themselves.

Understanding these things is the first step to dealing with resistance to change.

The challenge is unlearning and relearning that must occur for change to happen. This includes unlearning attitudes, beliefs, and values that are part of the very fabric of the organization. It requires building new attitudes, beliefs and values that support more entrepreneurial thought and action. Change occurs at the individual, team and organizational level – often one person at a time.

Intrapreneurship is all about change. Changing everything!

  • Changing the way people think and act
  • Changing the way the organization operates
  • Changing the culture

The goal of intrapreneurship is to build the capabilities that enable organizations to respond to change.

More than ever organizations are under pressure to create new business growth. This need requires the ability and readiness to embrace change. It is a dynamic and ongoing process. Embedding change in the organization leads to growth. Resistance impedes that growth.

Change is one of the most underdeveloped skills in organizations. Approximately seventy percent of all new change initiatives fail. It is multi-dimensional and touches every aspect of the organization. It deals with the soft skills and requires an understanding of human systems. It requires a shift in thinking and behavior. It challenges traditional business practices and processes. It changes the balance of power and politics. It requires rethinking how the organization operates and what it stands for.

So it is not surprising that intrapreneurs encounter so much resistance.

Individuals and organizations must go through the change process. It takes time, commitment and perseverance. Change is both a process and an outcome. The process is designed to facilitate the change and the outcome is the results you hope to achieve from the change.

Faced with a change we all tend to have selective perception – we only see the positive side of the current situation and the weaknesses of the proposed change. It is up to the intrapreneur to get everyone to understand the positive aspects of the change. Managing resistance requires getting individuals and organizations to reframe their view of themselves. Not an easy task!

Change is a powerful force that changes the dynamics of an organization. An organization needs to change if it wants to grow. There is no silver bullet.

Intrapreneurs are leading change in their organizations despite the resistance they encounter.

How are you dealing with resistance to change?


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