Change efforts sometimes fail.
Specifically, transformation or Change efforts sometimes fail. Despite the gravity of the crisis, our responses many times don’t meet the required focus and attention that is required. And sometimes, we come up against the Not Invented Here attitude, which can be cankerous to change.
In fact, the numbers are staggering – most of them fail. While the root cause is wide and varied, there are general themes or characteristics that are important to keep in mind in your own transformation efforts. Think of these as symptoms also — that a failure is around the corner if you see these characteristics creeping-up or, better yet, you can course-correct if there’s still time.
The data on Transformation failures is instructive:
The main categories for why Transformations fail are 1:
- Employee Resistance to Change (39%)
- Management Behavior not supportive of Change (33%)
- Lack of resources (14%)
- Other (14%)
The top two reasons are instructive and actionable – the root causes for most transformation failures have to do with people: employee resistance and management behavior.
Management Behavior that is not supportive of the change and Employee Resistance are the main factors that lead to transformation failures
Typical characteristics in transformation failures are the following:
- There is no obvious connection to outcomes that the organization values
- The aspirations of the organization are not clear, concise, or communicated
- The desired behaviors are not role-modeled, trained, or reinforced
- The top team is not aligned
- The informal “how things get done” remain inconsistent with espoused values
- The change champions lose interest and move to the “next” change program
- The leaders charged with implementing the change do not possess the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities
In the next post, we’ll discuss how to surgically address the failure characteristics above, create a transformation story that is rigorously architected along broad themes, the chapters in that story, and the key initiatives that those chapters produce, and the role of the leadership team in all of it.
- Beer and Nohria (2000); Cameron and Quinn (1997); CSC Index; Caldewell (1994); Gross et al. (1993); Kotter and Heskett (1992); Hickings (1988); Conference Board report (Fortune 500 interviews); press analysis; McKinsey analysis ↩