Misaligned incentives. Insufficient investment in training. Conflicting priorities. A few rotten apples on the executive team. All of these are typical responses to the question: What’s blocking your change efforts? And, in our view, such answers are insufficiently shallow. Finding the root cause of barriers to change requires leaders to probe into their organization’s subconscious to surface, diagnose, and ultimately address hidden, often subtle, barriers. Here’s how we did that for one of our clients and what we learned.

How to Uncover What’s Really Happening in an Organization:

  • Act like an anthropologist.​
  • Analyze breadcrumbs.​
  • Draw out invisible patterns.​

Unearthing and crystallizing previously hidden barriers can accelerate change efforts. The techniques described in this article are relatively straightforward to execute and can quickly provide rich insight. In addition, there are three lessons to help put them into action.