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70% of Change Initiatives 'Doomed to Failure from the Start' say Blanchard Experts

Learning NewsThe Ken Blanchard Companies

As organisations worldwide face increased economic and competitive challenges, the demand for effective change leadership becomes even greater. Yet according to Blanchard researchers, almost 29% of change initiatives are launched without any formal structure whatsoever, meaning they are effectively doomed to failure from the start.

In total, say Blanchard researchers Pat Zigarma and Judd Hoestrka , up to 70% of change efforts fail or get de-railed, a shocking figure in boom times, let alone in the current shrinking economic climate. "It has never been more important to ensure changes intended to maintain growth and expansion are properly managed," say Zigarmi and Hoestrka. "If change is mis-handled, the outcomes can be disruptive at best, and disastrous at worst. In some cases, failed change efforts will lead to even more serious trouble, as productivity, morale, and money are wasted on lost causes."

The results and analysis of Zigarmi and Hoestrka's extensive studies, along with insight on mastering the art of leading change, are to be found in their new white paper, Leadership Strategies for Making Change Stick.

Typically, says the paper, when an initiative to deal with change is launched, employees focus too much on what they have to lose from change, rather than what they will gain in the end. Even those who remain neutral usually do so either because they are not entirely aware of how exactly the change will affect them, or because they do not believe it will impact them at all.

Yet this scenario is one of several entirely predictable reasons why change fails, say Zigarmi and Hoestrka. Yet because this, among other reasons, is so often unrecognised, leaders fail to plan for the problem and so cannot overcome it.

"Many organisations immediately go wrong by attempting to manage change efforts on their own, through small leadership teams, without the aid of independent change experts," say the white paper co-authors. "Initiatives then backfire or flounder, because the company is moving forward without a proven change leadership model or any competent internal change leadership capacity. Within our study, we found that of more than 900 training and HR leaders surveyed, only 14 to 25 percent of respondents sought outside expertise, and 29 percent launched their change initiatives with no formal approach at all."

"For change initiatives to succeed, companies need to 'speak with one voice' about the proposed change. Collaboration, teamwork, and engagement help build up interest and excitement about the change, but in the end, the people who plan the change rarely implement the plan. Effective change leadership requires a combined effort from all those who have an effect on the change, as well as those who are impacted by the change. Leaders must develop strategies to resolve concerns and learn from the insights and advice that people have about how to implement the proposed change."

Blanchard's studies outlined the key reasons why change efforts fail. In addition to the issues mentioned above, these also include:

- Mistaken belief that announcing change is the same as implementing it

- Colleagues are not convinced of the need for change

- Leaders fail to take sufficient account of colleagues' personal responses to change

- Leaders provide too little information to those whom the change will impact

- The practical mechanics of making change happen are ignored

- The actual impact of change is inadequately benchmarked

- Change is seen as a 'one-off' rather than an ongoing process

Blanchard's white paper explores these potential pitfalls and investigates how they can be pre-empted and avoided through a proper implementation of Blanchards' Leading People Through Change programme. Obtain a free copy of Leadership Strategies for Making Change Stick