Seventy percent of change initiatives fail
Whether it is objectively true or not, does not really matter. From this point on, the uphill battle just keeps getting steeper and steeper.
Of course, there is a counter-image. I have trained and advised managers going through major changes, for example in down-sizing initiatives, where the company has invested in process facilitation.
The organisation has implemented the change with dignity and respect and given the circumstances, outcome was positive. Frontline managers dealing with the redundancy received the support they needed before, during and after the change.
Change management is a difficult enterprise, but not an impossible one. I am happy to discuss how to ensure your change initiative ends up being among the successful 30%.
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Are you surprised? I wish I could say I am, but my experience with change management corresponds with that number. I have been called in when change have gone wrong. When competent managers and employees, in the severe cases, have fled the organisation. Apart from the obvious anguish and deteriorated trust, the monetary cost for the organisation is hard to overestimate.
I have seen change management initiatives turn into trench wars between the management teams who own the change and the project leaders who are tasked with implementing it. Normally sensible and well-meaning people are suddenly unrecognisable. Why is this?
Based on conversations with battle-scarred project leaders and managers, my conclusion is that they have underestimated the difficulties, and implemented the change without sufficient process facilitation.
At some point a narrative emerges, implying that management do not know what they are doing.
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