Top Ten Signs that Your Organizational Change Effort is Already Doomed!

As an expert in successfully implementing positive changes in organizations, I can share some pretty nasty horror stories with you all about organizational changes that have gone awry. Let’s face it. Up to 80% of all organizational changes do fail in one way or another, so the odds are actually stacked in favor of a horror story rather than a success.

The following are the top 10 reasons I have experienced as to why these organizational changes fail. If even a few of these are present with your existing initiatives, give us a call. It’s not too late to avert the disaster!

  1. Lack of visible, sustained executive sponsorship for the change effort
  2. Limited involvement by those most impacted by the upcoming changes when those changes are being designed
  3. Ill-defined or changing business requirements
  4. Weak assessment and understanding of the true impact of the changes on people’s specific jobs
  5. Lack of communications early in the change effort when many of the questions are first being asked
  6. Ineffective or incomplete training on any process or system changes
  7. Lack of communications just before those changes are implemented when people need the most clarity as well as any final transition instructions
  8. Lack of sustained communications to reinforce any new business practices after the implementation is complete
  9. Current operating systems left active – even if in “view only” mode – post-conversion after the new systems are deployed
  10. No specific measurable performance indicators and/or monitoring of the critical success factors that are identified

Fortunately, it’s not impossible to right the ship if your change efforts fit any of the descriptions above. It simply takes a dedicated person and/or team of people to manage the organizational aspects of your change efforts and correct for any of these 10 signs before it’s too late.

Posted in Change management, Communications, Executive Sponsorship, Failure, organizational change, Organizational Change Management, success, System Implementation, Training, Transition
One comment on “Top Ten Signs that Your Organizational Change Effort is Already Doomed!
  1. Al Strauss says:

    Hi Jeremy,

    This is a great list that change leaders and leaders in organizations undergoing change should have on the office walls and read every day.

    I would also say that the change becomes challenging if it conflicts with the organization’s culture and/or reward system. This doens’t mean the change is doomed but culture and rewards must be managed every bit as much as anything else with the change.

    Culture always wins, period. Any change that conflicts with the culture is doomed unless the culture also changes. Without managing the culture, the change turns into a management fad that will fade away. A well known OD practitioner gave me a great illustration of this once – a company known for its internal battles and infighting made an effort to hire people that were better at cooperation, thinking it would have an organizational impact and that people would see the benefits of working together. But the new hires soon left the company because they got beat up quickly and often. Their cooperative spirit was not aligned with the culture.

    If the reward system doesn’t align with the change, the change is also doomed. Early in my career, I was working for a company that was owned by General Motors, the biggest company in the world at the time. Each GM business unit had its own way of cost accounting and the thought was a common system would be easier and more efficient for all. It quickly became a corporate joke because the accounting managers brought together to develop the common system couldn’t even define a “finsished product.” The oft-repeated sarcastic comment I heard was, “Don’t they know we make cars?”

    But the problem was there were GM manufacturing plants that, for example, made nothing but transmissions. That was that plant’s finished product, not a car. And the plant manager and his team received their annual bonuses on how many transmissions were made, not how many cars were built and sold. And it would be a career-killing move for those plant accounting managers to sacrifice their boss’ bonus (along with their own bonus) for the sake of someone else in the company. These people had the authority to change the cost accounting system for the world’s largest company but they didn’t have the capability to change the reward system and the effort failed. (And, by the way, under the circumstances, I think the plant accounting managers were right! GM was telling them that building transmissions was so important, doing a good job of it will result in more money for those people and their bosses.)

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