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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Change Resistance Strategy for Maritime Shipping Leader


Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Change Resistance to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, KPIs, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. We followed this management consulting approach for this case study.

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Consider this scenario: The organization, a prominent player in the maritime industry, is facing internal resistance to strategic changes aimed at enhancing operational efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Despite a robust market presence, the organization's recent attempts to implement innovative technologies and processes have been met with significant pushback from various levels of the workforce. This resistance has led to delayed project timelines, increased costs, and a strain on leadership's ability to execute their vision.



reviewing the situation, it appears that the lack of employee buy-in and adherence to legacy practices could be major contributors to the resistance faced. Moreover, a potential misalignment between the organization's strategic objectives and the perceived implications on employees' roles and responsibilities might be exacerbating the issue. Lastly, insufficient communication and engagement strategies could be undermining change efforts.

Change Resistance Strategy Framework

A coherent, systematic approach to managing Change Resistance is essential for success. A proven 5-phase methodology, often adopted by leading consulting firms, can facilitate this process:

  1. Diagnostic Assessment: Begin by conducting a thorough analysis of the current state, understanding the workforce's perceptions and the organizational culture. Key activities include surveys, focus groups, and interviews to identify resistance sources.
  2. Strategy Development: Develop a clear, actionable change management strategy. Key questions to answer include identifying the change agents, defining the communication plan, and outlining the change roadmap.
  3. Stakeholder Engagement: Engage with key stakeholders to cultivate buy-in and ownership. This phase includes tailored communication and involvement activities to address concerns and showcase benefits.
  4. Implementation and Support: Execute the change initiatives with continuous support structures like training programs and feedback mechanisms. This phase ensures the changes are integrated into daily operations.
  5. Measurement and Reinforcement: Track progress against predefined KPIs and reinforce the change through recognition programs and ongoing communication. This phase ensures the changes stick and the organization can adapt as needed.

Learn more about Change Management Organizational Culture Change Resistance

For effective implementation, take a look at these Change Resistance best practices:

The People Side of Change & Change Resistance (32-slide PowerPoint deck)
Resolving Workplace Conflicts: General - Resistance to Change (3-page PDF document and supporting ZIP)
Change Resistance Primer (11-slide PowerPoint deck)
Bite-Size Change - Reducing Change Resistance (14-slide PowerPoint deck)
FCM 4 - Organisation Culture, Change Resistance & Change Agents (54-slide PowerPoint deck)
View additional Change Resistance best practices

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Challenges & Considerations

  • Within this process, it's common to encounter skepticism about the practicality and effectiveness of the change initiatives. Addressing this requires transparent communication of the benefits and the strategic rationale behind the changes.
  • Expected business outcomes include increased operational efficiency, reduced environmental impact, and improved competitive positioning. These outcomes are quantifiable through metrics such as cost savings, emissions reductions, and market share growth.
  • Implementation challenges often include sustaining momentum, aligning cross-departmental efforts, and managing the ongoing change fatigue. Overcoming these requires persistent leadership and adaptive change management practices.

Learn more about Leadership

Implementation KPIs

KPIS are crucial throughout the implementation process. They provide quantifiable checkpoints to validate the alignment of operational activities with our strategic goals, ensuring that execution is not just activity-driven, but results-oriented. Further, these KPIs act as early indicators of progress or deviation, enabling agile decision-making and course correction if needed.


What you measure is what you get. Senior executives understand that their organization's measurement system strongly affects the behavior of managers and employees.
     – Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton (creators of the Balanced Scorecard)

  • Employee Engagement Scores—to measure the workforce's alignment and commitment to the change initiatives.
  • Project Milestone Completion Rates—to track the progress of specific change initiatives against the planned timeline.
  • Operational Efficiency Metrics—such as turnaround times and cost per unit, to gauge improvements in operational processes.

For more KPIs, take a look at the Flevy KPI Library, one of the most comprehensive databases of KPIs available. Having a centralized library of KPIs saves you significant time and effort in researching and developing metrics, allowing you to focus more on analysis, implementation of strategies, and other more value-added activities.

Learn more about Flevy KPI Library KPI Management Performance Management Balanced Scorecard

Implementation Insights

Throughout the implementation, it was found that early and consistent engagement with middle management was crucial in cascading the change throughout the organization. According to McKinsey, companies with proactive and involved middle management have a 33% higher success rate in organizational change initiatives.

Learn more about Organizational Change

Change Resistance Management Deliverables

  • Change Management Framework (PowerPoint)
  • Communications Plan (Word)
  • Stakeholder Analysis Report (Excel)
  • Training and Support Materials (PDF)
  • Performance Dashboards (Excel)

Explore more Change Resistance deliverables

Change Resistance Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Change Resistance. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Change Resistance subject matter experts.

Case Studies

  • A case study on a leading shipping conglomerate highlights the successful implementation of a digital transformation initiative that overcame employee resistance by emphasizing transparent communication and inclusive leadership.
  • Another case study from a global maritime firm showcases how embedding change agents within teams significantly improved the adoption of new environmental policies and practices.

Explore additional related case studies

Aligning Organizational Culture with Change Initiatives

Aligning the organizational culture with change initiatives is a critical factor for successful transformation. Executives often overlook the cultural aspect of change, focusing solely on the structural or strategic components. A study by McKinsey indicates that cultural barriers are the most significant challenge to digital effectiveness, as cited by 33% of respondents. Therefore, it is essential to conduct a cultural audit to understand the underlying beliefs, behaviors, and values that might support or hinder the change. This understanding helps tailor the change strategy to align with the organizational culture, making it more acceptable and less resisted.

Moreover, developing a culture that is adaptable and resilient to change should be an ongoing effort, not just a one-time initiative. This includes embedding flexibility and continuous learning into the organization's DNA. Leaders play a crucial role in this process by setting an example and continuously communicating the importance of adaptability as a core value.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Change Management Strategies

Measuring the effectiveness of change management strategies is paramount to understanding their impact and guiding continuous improvement. Leaders should establish clear, measurable objectives at the outset of any change initiative. According to Prosci's benchmarking report, projects with excellent change management effectiveness are six times more likely to meet or exceed their objectives. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be identified to track progress against these objectives, with a mix of leading indicators, like employee engagement levels, and lagging indicators, such as operational performance metrics.

Additionally, regular pulse checks and feedback loops should be incorporated to gauge the sentiment and buy-in from the workforce throughout the change process. This real-time data allows for agile adjustments to the change management strategy, ensuring that it remains effective and relevant as the organization evolves.

Learn more about Continuous Improvement Employee Engagement Agile

Ensuring Sustained Change and Avoiding Reversion

Ensuring that changes are sustained over time and preventing reversion to old habits is a common concern among executives. To avoid this, it is crucial to embed the change into the organization's systems and processes. For instance, new behaviors and processes should be incorporated into job descriptions, performance evaluations, and reward systems. According to a study by BCG, companies that focus on continuous improvement after the initial change implementation are 1.5 times more likely to sustain the gains over the long term.

Furthermore, ongoing training and development programs can reinforce the desired changes and provide employees with the skills and knowledge needed to adapt. Leaders should remain vigilant and responsive to any signs of reversion, addressing them promptly with corrective actions. This proactive approach helps to solidify the change and make it part of the organizational fabric.

Leveraging Technology to Support Change Management

Technology plays a pivotal role in supporting change management efforts. Advanced tools can facilitate communication, collaboration, and training, which are all essential components of a successful change initiative. For instance, digital platforms can be used to disseminate information, gather feedback, and engage employees in dialogue. Gartner research suggests that organizations that leverage technology effectively can improve change success rates by up to 50%.

However, technology should not be viewed as a silver bullet but rather as an enabler that needs to be carefully integrated into the broader change management strategy. It is important to select tools that align with the organization's culture and change objectives, and to provide adequate support and training to ensure they are used effectively. By doing so, technology can enhance the change process and help drive positive outcomes.

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Increased operational efficiency by 15% through the implementation of new technologies and processes, as evidenced by reduced turnaround times and cost per unit.
  • Improved employee engagement scores by 20% following targeted communication and involvement activities, indicating enhanced alignment and commitment to change initiatives.
  • Successfully completed 90% of project milestones within the planned timeline, demonstrating effective execution and support of change initiatives.
  • Enhanced stakeholder buy-in and ownership through proactive and involved middle management, resulting in a 25% higher success rate in organizational change initiatives.

Overall, the initiative has yielded significant positive results, particularly in terms of operational efficiency and employee engagement. The implementation of new technologies and processes led to a 15% improvement in operational efficiency, as evidenced by reduced turnaround times and cost per unit. Additionally, targeted communication and involvement activities resulted in a 20% increase in employee engagement scores, indicating improved alignment and commitment to the change initiatives. The successful completion of 90% of project milestones within the planned timeline reflects effective execution and support of change initiatives. Furthermore, proactive and involved middle management contributed to a 25% higher success rate in organizational change initiatives, highlighting the importance of stakeholder engagement.

However, there were areas where the results fell short of expectations. The resistance to change from various levels of the workforce led to delayed project timelines, increased costs, and a strain on leadership's ability to execute their vision. Insufficient communication and engagement strategies undermined change efforts, indicating a need for more effective approaches to address resistance and enhance buy-in. Alternative strategies could have included more comprehensive diagnostic assessments to identify resistance sources and tailored communication plans to address concerns and showcase benefits, ultimately fostering greater stakeholder buy-in and ownership.

Looking ahead, it is recommended to conduct a comprehensive review of the change management strategy and consider alternative approaches to address resistance and enhance stakeholder buy-in. This may involve revisiting the diagnostic assessment phase to gain deeper insights into resistance sources and tailoring communication plans to effectively address concerns and showcase benefits. Additionally, ongoing measurement and reinforcement of change initiatives, coupled with sustained stakeholder engagement, will be crucial to ensuring lasting success and mitigating resistance to future strategic changes.

Source: Change Resistance Strategy for Maritime Shipping Leader, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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