Failure reasons in change management

...and how to avoid them!


Failure reasons in change management are many and varied. But one thing is very clear. Any organisational initiative that creates change - or has a significant change element to it - has a 70% chance of not achieving what was originally envisaged.

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14 Oct 2008 IBM announced the results of a study of more than 1,500 change management executives from 15 countries, which reveals that nearly 60 percent of projects aimed at achieving business change do not fully meet their objectives.




The 3 big reasons for failure of Change Initiatives

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There are 3 main reasons for failure:

  • (1) Gap - 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) Resistance - The "hidden and built in resistance to change" of organisational cultures, and the lack of processes and change management methodologies to address this.
  • (3) Impact - 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.

It may occur at project level [at the execution "getting it all together" level] so that the initiative doesn't get off the ground - or doesn't get completed.




Research into reasons for Project failure


Take a look at this summary: Reasons for Project Failure




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Reasons why programmmea fail


But the bigger and more critical issue here is that even when the projects - the new capabilities - are completed on time and in budget, a failure can still occur at programme level - and from a statistical perspective it probably will!

A programme level [more accurately a "no programme" level!] failure occurs when the envisaged benefits [the whole raison d'etre] of the initiative are not achieved.


    The root cause of this is lack of clarity and lack of communication- and even more fundamentally - the lack of a language and contextual framework to articulate and manage the necessary processes of change.



This is what a Programme Management based approach to change is all about and why it so important.

As with most specialist areas of knowledge, there is within this discipline a universal or generic set of "truths" that transcend the boundaries of the formalised models and tools of programme management, applies to all organisations experiencing step change, and can be expressed in simpler language.

Just as an aside, I feel that whilst it is absolutely necessary for there to be experts and centres of technical excellence - the very processes by which they function separates them and the knowledge from the far wider audience who could benefit most from that knowledge.

My intention with this site is to attempt to bridge that gap and to do so in a format and language that is appropriate for the target audience [i.e. directors of larger SMEs and mid-range corporates with 200- 2000 employees.]

And yet despite the fact that programme management as a discipline has been around for over 10 years - the failures still keep mounting .


“Men always dislike enterprises where the snags are evident..."

Machiavelli “The Prince”



The whole of my approach to change management and dealing with the "snags" such as fear of change and resistance to change is based on this model of a programme approach.

My preference for this is that it forces senior management (and their advisors) to take a holistic and structured look at the wider factors that need to be addressed - and are often "mission critical".







So why are change programmes treated as projects?


In my experience the size of a company is no indicator as to whether or not it employs a programme management approach. I have sat across the table in meetings with directors of UK based £1bn+ turnover corporates - household names in some cases - who didn't have a clue about programme management.

I would go further and say that the vast majority of companies know little to nothing about programme management.

A useful indicator is the number of online searches on Google Adwords for project management and programme (or program) management


    For the month of March 2009 there were 450,000 searches for project management and 39,200 searches for programme (or program) management.



One reason why programme management has not yet permeated the business "mainstream" is because - in my opinion - it appears to be complex and to address dimensions that don't resonate or connect with mid range corporates and larger SMEs.

This is partly because corporates are more complex - but also because the talented and experienced professionals who compile these things think that way!

However, it is my belief and experience that the broad principles of programme management can be set out in a simple model and using simple language that can be applied in any organisation of any size.




Project Management/Change Management: Bridging The Gap






Go back to - Where to start?

Recession risk and resistance - and how to avoid them

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practitioners masterclass,change management training,change managers,change management


practitioners masterclass,change management training,change managers,change management