Some Initiatives never Take-off: Why?

We have been working with many organizations on various HR initiatives – some are strategic, some are operational; some are focused and some are exploratory. Our experience tells us that strategic initiatives need high degree of internal debate, involvement of multiple stakeholders and a broad consensus at the top to take off and sustain. On the other hand, most of the operational initiatives of HR takeoff fairly quickly if the HR team and their reporting boss (mostly the Managing Director or CEO) give their nod.

There are some organizations, which have a need, and some of the stakeholders feel the same as well. However, the required momentum never picks up and much needed interventions never takeoff. It is intriguing to explore this phenomenon.

We could understand four specific reasons why some initiatives never takeoff.

1. Pain is not painful enough

At times, organizations want to do something about an issue. Some stakeholders make a feeble noise. But the inconvenience or urge to correct the system may not be intense enough to cause a sustained focus. In such situations, organizations learn to cope up with the issue than come together to correct it. Consequently, any interventions – proposed internally by HR or externally by a consulting firm – do not takeoff.

2. HR leader cannot present the business case

In some cases, we see HR leader sensing the problem correctly. A preliminary dialogue with an external consulting firm validates the diagnosis and the need for an intervention. Even after that some initiatives never takeoff due to insufficient ‘push’ by the HR leader. Some HR leaders lack the influencing and persuasive skills to present the enormity of the situation and gain consensus from the other senior leaders in the organization. In due course, problems deepen or hidden under the carpet and never addressed.

3. Dynamics among the senior team

Some initiatives if implemented will change systems and policies causing shift in power centers. Some leaders who perceive a threat to their power, authority or autonomy will block the initiatives. If the leader above and the HR head fail to prevail upon such power-mongers, initiatives will be grounded permanently and will hinder any organizational development.

4. Lack of confidence to execute

We come across organizations that completely agree on the need for a specific initiative; yet they hesitate to takeoff fearing insufficient internal competence to execute the same and sustain. They tend to postpone hoping that one day they will prepare the organization with necessary skills to execute. In this process, they miss timely implementation of some initiatives.

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– Dr. Raj

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