The Number One Reason Change Efforts Fail

70% of organizational change efforts fail.

You may have heard that before, or you probably aren’t surprised by it.  Who hasn’t been a part of an unsuccessful change effort?

Change experts/theorists/geniuses have written thousands of books and scholarly articles about why so many efforts fail and what we as organizations and leaders need to do better.

Now, I could go on about change theory for hours, but today I’m keeping things simple.

The number one reason change efforts fail is because organizations don’t provide enough support for people to change.

Think about it …

Organizational change requires people to change.  A restructuring, for example, may require people to learn new skills, move teams, or work with new colleagues.  Implementing a new weekly staff meeting may demand that people change their routines, speak up, or report on accountability.

If we were all robots, then it would be easy to lead and manage those changes.   Put together a change plan that tells everyone what changes are being made and what they need to do differently (sounds familiar?).

But for us emotional human beings, adapting to change is a personal growth process, and one that most do not find comfortable.   The uncertainty of change can spark fear, anxiety, and behavior that shut down communications, diminish commitment to the organization, and derail the change effort.

So, what can we do differently?

Support change leaders to not only understand and lead the organizational changes, but also (and perhaps more importantly) to understand and lead their own personal change and growth.  By enhancing leaders’ willingness and openness to explore and create personal change, we are enabling them to be models, motivators, and supporters to others in the organization who are being asked to change as well.  A coaching relationship, leadership program, or a peer support group are all effective and thoughtful structures that support leaders, and their organizations, to change.

Put this learning into action NOW!

Use the comments section to tell us what you think.  Have you lead or been a part of an organizational change effort?  Did it fail or succeed, and what was the top factor that lead to the failure or success?