Latest Insights – Change Management

Question: Why do 70% of all major change efforts in organizations fail (Harvard Business review – a 30 year study of change management)? 

Answer: Because organizations often do not take the holistic approach required to see the change through.

The need to change the way in which the organisation performs, whether it be public or private sector based, for profit or not-for-profit, is driven by one of the following dynamics: competitive forces, innovation, technology, growth, cost structures, culture and environmental change.

We live in a rapidly changing world and the organisation must adapt to compete, survive and remain relevant. Too many great companies, with what at the time appeared to be unassailable competitive advantage, have missed the warning signs and have failed to manage the degree of change in a timely manner.

In our experience organisations can avoid failure and become adept at change. The ability to continually change and adapt to the changing business landscape is a well learned capability which can lead to competitive advantage.

Our experience over the last 25 years has shown that change can be managed, just like any other business variable, applying the following steps in an iterative manner:

  1. Case for change (burning platform)
    Help others see the need for change and they will be convinced of the importance of acting immediately.
  2. Stakeholder engagement and coalition
    Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort, and encourage the group to work as a team. 
  3. Vision and strategy
    Create a vision to help direct the change effort, and develop strategies for achieving that vision.
  4. Communicating the change vision
    Ensure as many as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.
  5. Empowering action
    Remove obstacles to change, change systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision, and encourage risk-taking and non-traditional ideas, activities, and actions.
  6. Generating short term wins
    Plan for achievements that can easily be made visible, follow-through with those achievements and recognize and reward employees who were involved.
  7. Consolidate gains and produce more change
    Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision, also hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision, and finally reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes, and change agents. 
  8. Anchor the changes in the culture
    Articulate the connections between the new behaviours and organizational success, and develop the means to ensure leadership development and succession.