Change Management: Creating Change That Lasts

May 31, 2016

“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” while an oft quoted statement and very applicable in a myriad of situations, it is especially important in circumstances where transitions are underway. Change management processes often fail, because the transition “is conceived as an outside-in process” according to researchers. Change Management is an approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and/or organisations to a desired future state. In order to have a successful business revamp, individuals have to be willing to make fundamental internal changes within themselves. Changes that are successful and lasting cannot be forced onto people.

The fail rate for change initiatives in companies across the business world is startling. According to Harvard Business Review 70% of all change initiatives fail, because too much emphasis is placered on outward restructuring. Of course, due energy should be placed on regrouping staff and changing procedures, but usually this occurs at the expense of focusing on crucial internal changes amongst employees and leadership.

“Research and client experience suggest that half of all efforts to transform organisational performance fail either because senior managers don’t act as role models for change or because people in the organisation defend the status quo,” Ray Williams from Psychology Today explained.

For example, most organisations are very adept at evaluating technical requirements and work-flow, but ignore the importance change management has on the success of any technology initiative. When you look at a typical RFI/RFP you will notice this. What you see are pages and pages of questions vetting out every last detail of the software capability requirements. If you take a closer look, you won’t see much regarding change management or detailed questions concerning supporting employee behaviour changes.

In the rare case that an RFI/RFP does address this topic, it is usually at a very high level. For instance, you may see questions like the following: “Please explain your deployment process” or “what kind of training do you provide?” These types of questions do not really provide the depth or insights needed to protect the return on a new technology investment.

Ultimately, simplifying change management processes and procedures is the key to ensuring successful reorganisation. Company changes cannot be mapped out in an orderly and linear fashion with the expectation that all components of an organisation overhaul will be implemented on a precise timetable. Change is an organic process, and while there should be general guidelines for how change management occurs, humans, and by consequence the businesses they run, are not “static” or perfectly linear entities. Because variables are dynamic, being able to adapt is , an essential skill for business success and longevity.

“In our experience, the reason for most of those failures is that in their rush to change their organisations, managers end up immersing themselves in an alphabet soup of initiatives,” Nitin Nohria and Michael Beer from Harvard Business Review noted.

In order for success to occur, a framework of continuous targeted communication must be established, because in the end, projects or initiatives require some individuals to change how they do their jobs. If these individuals do not adopt the new change to the way they currently work, the desired business goals will not be realised. Without the cooperation of all individuals during a reorganisation, a corporation’s personnel and cultural foundations remain unstable and unpredictable.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blogpost about common change management mistakes companies make. Learn what the biggest mishaps are and how your company can avoid them.