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Why Most Organizational Change Initiatives Fail

Post Author Rob MacLane
Jan 24, 2020 9:15:00 AM
Workforce Insights
Why Most Organizational Change Initiatives Fail

In business and in life, change is inevitable. To stay competitive, companies must learn how to adapt continuously. With technology evolving faster than ever before, the pressure to keep up with the rate of change is enormous.

As an IT leader, you have a vested interest in transformation within your company and make it happen with the implementation of new technology. Perhaps you’ve done your vetting and are ready to move forward with a particular system. The question is—are your people ready?

According to McKinsey & Company, 70% of organizational change initiatives fail.

Why, exactly?

We sat down with Norrene Duffy, subject matter expert within 3Ci’s Organizational Change Management consulting practice, to get some answers.

First of all, why is organizational change so necessary in today’s business environment?

The way we’re choosing the technologies we invest in is changing. The days when we were buying new software packages customized to the way we do business have come and gone. Now, we’re buying best practices. In order to best utilize these new applications, employees are required to change the way they work. And that takes some, well, work. 

Whether it’s a new ERP, CRM, or any other system that crosses over divisions within an organization, getting your people to act as a unified force throughout a change initiative can be a challenge.

Why are so many organizational change initiatives failing?

That entirely depends on how you define failure. In some cases, the ROI that was expected is not realized. In other cases, the software never goes live. Other times, businesses shy away from modernizing at all because they’re intimidated. Most of the time, a “failure” in change management means the people within an organization who need to adapt to a new environment or technology don’t do so successfully. 

The fact of the matter is—if your people aren’t ready for the change that’s occurring, there’s a good chance your technology implementation will be deemed a failure.

Just like project management, successful organizational change management is methodological in nature. Too many IT leaders today assume that as long as they communicate what is going on, all will be okay and the effort will be a success. There’s much more to it than that. Organizational change management is more than just communications. Successful change management stems from an understanding that, in order for people to change, they must: know what’s happening, want to change, know how to change, be able to change, and exist in an environment that reinforces that change. 

What should companies in the midst of major change focus on first and foremost?

The research is clear—the number one success factor for change is active and visible leadership. You can’t bring someone from the outside to influence your people. That’s a leader’s job. But 3Ci can help support leaders through change and offer a roadmap to be visible in their sponsorship of change.

You need stakeholders within your organization to serve as the face of change, but sometimes, they need help knowing exactly how to do that.

The same goes for managers and supervisors. These are the people with the most immediate knowledge about how an employee’s future world will be different from their current work. They are a critical piece of the change puzzle and need help understanding how to engage their teams and promote change through go-live and beyond.

What do you wish today’s IT leaders knew about organizational change?

That they don’t have to do it alone. There are people out there who specialize in these time-tested methodologies who can help you realize the ROI on your new technology, reduce the amount of noise, confusion, disillusionment, and resistance of your people throughout the change process, lower your risk of losing valuable people within your organization, and increase your chances of successfully adopting new technology within your organization.

If you’re going through a medium to large scale system implementation that impacts the way people work, don’t go at it alone. Whether you want to build an OCM practice in-house or are looking to outsource the project entirely, 3Ci can help. We guide our clients through pivotal transformations using best practices in change management and organizational readiness.

You can learn more about 3Cis’ Organizational Readiness and Change Management services right here.

If you are interested to learn how the Industry 4.0 can help drive that needed change, take a look at this reading.

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