Change Management Lessons Learned and the Biggest Causes of Failure

So what is change management? The traditional project approach to change management – sees it as a set of tasks which if executed successfully get a result. In other words the typical process led approach which has failed so consistently and so spectacularly over the last 20 years!

There are 3 main reasons for the astonishingly high 70% failure rate of ALL business change initiatives:

1. The gap between the strategic vision and a successful programme implementation and the lack of a practical change management model and tools to bridge that gap.

2. The “hidden and built in resistance to change” of organisational cultures, and the lack of processes and change management methodologies to address this.

3. Failure to take full account of the impact of the changes on those people who are most affected by them i.e. the absence of good strategies for managing change.

Prosci is the recognized leader in business process design and change management research, and is the world’s largest provider of change management and re-engineering toolkits and benchmarking information. [This is not a commercial – I’m just establishing their credentials!]

They are the publishers of “Prosci’s Best Practices in Business Process Re-engineering and Process Design” which is based on research with 327 organisations world-wide.

The objective of this study is to provide real-life lessons from the experiences of project teams recently or currently involved in business process re-engineering projects.

Key findings in the latest report show the 4 key lessons learnt:

(1) “More effective change management” – is the main thing that project teams would do differently on the next project.

(2) Top management of teams and the their projects means they were more likely to complete their project at or above expectations.

(3) The planning stage, was universally regarded as the most important phase in the project – because this was where scope and roles were defined.

(4) The primary obstacle to a successful implementation was resistance to change. This was mentioned 6 times more that any other factor.

Clearly the single biggest reason for the astonishingly high 70% failure rate has been the over-emphasis on project process rather than the people aspects – the failure to take full account of the impact of change on those people who are most impacted by it.

Closely allied to that reason is the lack of process to directly address the human aspects of change.

Properly applied, this is exactly what the holistic and wide view perspective of a programme based approach to change management will deliver.

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