As the economy continues to improve, companies are likely to be thinking about the challenges they face in operating their businesses and crafting the solutions to address them. For those organizations that may have already taken these steps, this may be the time when executives at these companies put those solutions in place. Unfortunately, a number of these organizations are likely to discover that the outcome of these efforts is not success.
Over time, OrgLeader has found that many companies have not learned from the missteps of other organizations or benefited from the work of thought leaders such as Peter Senge, Ken Blanchard and John Kotter. In other words, the business findings from years ago are still holding true today:
- 70% of major company initiatives fail to achieve their objectives
- Getting people to understand and support these initiatives are two of the biggest challenges
Examples of these findings range from ineffectively launching a new payroll system that results in more errors and re-work than the system it replaced to putting in a new organization structure without considering its impact that causes confusion and impairs the ability of employees to do their work. While it could be argued that these failures are due to a large extent to the scale of the initiatives (i.e., the entire organization), this would not be a strong argument. Similar outcomes have been found with smaller-scale initiatives. So, why do these efforts fail?
Granted, there could be reasons that are unique to each situation, but OrgLeader has observed two general themes that are key contributors to organizations’ lack of success:
- Problem diagnosis and solution design are done with no forethought regarding implementation
- Implementation is brought up but the time spent on implementation planning is highly inadequate
The key learning for these companies is that identifying the organizational gap and coming up with the way to close the organizational gap are only part of what is needed to ensure success. The other part (which is critical) is how the solution is implemented. A planned approach for implementing successful change is necessary. This is a process that should begin at least around the time the solution is designed and then continue until it is put in place and consistently supported by the organization. It does not matter whether it is a company-wide effort (e.g., implementing a new organization structure at a corporation) or a smaller-scale effort (e.g., leading an initiative within a division). The same principles apply in either case.
Leaders need to understand and take into account a number of change management issues to sustain results. These issues include: the driving need for the change, the people who are impacted by this change, the desired end-state, potential roadblocks and ways to make the solution stick. Leaders who incorporate this type of thinking into their daily work have consistently achieved better outcomes.