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What’s the biggest barrier to change in your organization?

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 160,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each Tuesday in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: What’s the biggest barrier to change in your organization?

  • Inertia and the power of the status quo: 34%
  • Lack of resources/competing priorities: 32%
  • People not wanting to take risks that could hurt them professionally/personally: 26%
  • Lack of skills/expertise to make changes: 5%
  • We have no challenges and make changes as we need to: 3%

The fear of change and the fear of risk are the big barriers to moving your organization forward. When you look at the power of the status quo — 34% — dominating the lack of change, the root cause is because the status quo is known, comfortable and relatively risk-free. Add the dynamic of people fearing taking risks because of personal implications, and you have a recipe for inaction. The result is that resources are all allocated to less-risky projects while ones that drive change are starved. Your job as a leader is to break that inertia, balance the risk of your project portfolio and make change happen.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of ThoughtLeaders and author of “One Piece of Paper.”