Change Management: 5 Keys to Overcoming Implementation Obstacles

Mark Bridges
4 min readApr 25, 2023


In order to flourish in the face of disruption and intense competition, businesses must continue to adapt and innovate.

Although change is essential to an organization’s development and profitability, it is frequently resisted by individuals and groups within the organization, making its implementation a difficult task.

Change Management is the process of preparing and assisting individuals, teams, and organizations as they make modifications to their operations, processes, and structures.

Change Management necessitates addressing and overcoming key obstacles that impede Transformation. These obstacles include:

· Change disrupts individuals’ routines and comfort zones, resulting in their resistance to change. It causes individuals to experience dread of the unknown, lack of trust in the change, and a loss of control.

· Inadequate communication and engagement with key stakeholders results in a failure to obtain buy-in and commitment from them, ultimately destroying the change initiative.

· Change Management necessitates a well-planned and implemented strategy. Implementing change effectively is hindered by confusion, delays, setbacks, and obstacles caused by ineffective planning.

· Change initiatives require resources, such as time, money, and individuals. Lack of resources impedes the proper implementation of change and results in subpar outcomes.

· Change Management requires effective and consistent communication, but there has been a disruption in this area. Inadequate or nonexistent communication results in misunderstandings and change resistance.

· Cultural differences pose a significant challenge when implementing change in a global organization. Diverse cultures have varying perspectives on change, and their values and beliefs frequently conflict with the initiative for change.

To implement change effectively, organizations must address these obstacles and execute a well-planned Change Management Strategy.

To overcome any obstacles in implementing Change initiatives, leaders must thoroughly consider and implement the 5S Keys, as they all begin with the letter “S:”

  1. Sponsor
  2. Strategy
  3. Straw Boss
  4. System Map
  5. Stakeholders

None of the 5S alone enables a Change Management initiative to be successful; all five are necessary and essential for sustainable change. Let’s now examine the first three of these elements in greater depth.


A Change Sponsor is the individual responsible for the Change initiative. The Change Sponsor ensures that the Change initiative is adequately staffed with competent and dedicated individuals and removes obstacles that may impede the initiative’s progress. This individual invests in the Change initiative, advocates for it, and has the ability to make it happen. Typically, the Sponsor is a prominent executive within the organization who possesses significant authority over the system undergoing modification. The Sponsor monitors progress and offers feedback and direction to the Change Management team.


A Change Strategy provides a distinct direction and road map for achieving the intended change. These steps consist of a series of actions designed to make it simpler for stakeholders to embrace change and address any potential issues. A Change Strategy aids in establishing a sense of direction and purpose, which is essential for obtaining stakeholder buy-in. It helps ensure that stakeholders are engaged and invested in the project, manages risks, and establishes defined criteria and metrics for measuring success.

Straw Boss

In the context of Change Management, the term “Straw Boss” refers to an informal leader or influencer who may not hold a formal leadership position within the organization but has significant sway over their coworkers. With the support and assistance of the sponsor, this individual leads the change initiative at the front lines. A surrogate supervisor can be a valuable ally in promoting change adoption within an organization by using their influence to encourage colleagues to adopt the change, serve as a role model, and provide feedback to change managers on what is and is not working.

Interested in learning more about the other keys to effectively managing Change? You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on 5S Keys to Successful Change here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Mark Bridges

I blog about various management frameworks, from Strategic Planning to Digital Transformation to Change Management.