Change is inevitable, a fundamental part of life. On a day-to-day basis, people are consistently adapting to their surroundings, altering routines to keep up with the pace of the ever evolving world.
Change initiatives are key to any growing, successful business or organisation. With client / consumer needs deviating due to the evolution of life, a company must be able to acclimatise to altering requirements. Despite Change being an imperative part of success, research shows that shockingly over two thirds of initiatives fail.
In research provided by Harvard Business Review, studies show 70% of initiatives fail. Other companies such as The Boston Consulting Group, have also partaken in studies around change initiatives. BCG’s findings concluded that two thirds of the targeted companies failed to produce their expected results. They found that although managing change is tough, part of the problem is that there is little agreement on what factors most influence transformation initiatives: ‘Ask five executives to name the one factor critical for the success of these programs, and you’ll probably get five different answers.’
The Boston Consulting Group also states that the ability to deliver successful change is increasingly becoming a real determinant of competitive advantage. Yet, delivering successful change is one of the toughest challenges that companies face, especially complex, high-stakes, breakthrough change. Studies show that, depending on complexity, 50-75% of major change efforts fail to realise intended results.
Research conducted by McKinsey & Company have focused on investigating hundreds of companies that have entered into new change initiatives. This also confirms “Change efforts are hard work and implementation is critical to overall transformational success.” Their latest findings suggest that investing time and effort up front to design a transformation’s initiatives also matters.
So why does it fail?
Rapidly evolving technology and the increasing need for global integration makes it strenuous for even the most successful global organisations.
Most change initiatives deteriorate due to a lack of knowledge & understanding. In most instances, the case has not been explained sufficiently to all stake holders involved in the change process. If the organisation had not been fully clear in the briefings and strategy of the reasons to change, this can then have a detrimental effect.
Decision Makers, leaders and CxO’s may not share information with their employees, unknowingly promoting a culture working against change – also resulting in a demotivated team.
Research shows that leaders of successful changes involve people of all levels listening to their ideas, and encouraging them to take ownership for their part of the change programme. Many organisations fail to recognise the very behaviours that lead to success.
Management Consultancy Bain & Company have stipulated that ‘The way forward is blocked by cognitive biases that interfere with people’s openness to change.’ A cognitive bias is a departure from good or rational judgment resulting from a particular situation or set of circumstances.
Some leaders know how to lead change, but they don’t put that knowledge into play. Actions like this create conflicting scenarios between knowing how to implement a change initiative effectively and how that initiative is then put into action. Another ventricle of this is not being prepared for the change of management style required to manage a business; choosing a methodology or approach that does not suit the companies requirements. This can lead to decision makers developing change management strategies on paper, only to find they’ve unconsciously set up barriers that can block an organisation from receiving the results they want.
How can we prevent being part of the atrocious statistic?
To succeed at change, you must find a way to overcome many challenges: resistance; cynicism and fear; lack of practiced skills and applied knowledge; and hidden conflicts that undermine efforts.
Change initiatives cannot be fully enforced unless it is well communicated and developed, ensuring all those involved in the initiative can demonstrate commitment. The people involved must have the correct training and skillset for the required work load and be able to constantly identify and reinforce corporate priorities to reduce conflict and resistance.
PwC also operated their own studies around change initiatives. They found that getting the best from people at every level when there is constant change is the key to sustainable competitive advantage. Solid strategies, processes and technology alone do not deliver results. It takes people to accept, adopt, drive, and sustain the change to realise tangible impact. Success in business hinges on strategic agility and the ability to execute.
There are plenty of resources and articles available on leading change. While these can help organisations in the short term, it is unlikely to have a significant impact unless all parties can identify the true reason why the change initiative needs to be put into practice, and knowing the procedures on how it can be led. The correct skills need to be developed and put into action accordingly, ensuring that there are no hidden conflicts creating a barrier to stop the rightful knowledge being put to use.