Avoid The 70% Failure Rate Of Change Management Initiatives

You read that number right: seventy percent, a dramatically high rate of failure. It could happen to you unless you take into account that any business process change is strongly related to personal change — that means your people — and this is often the component that gets shortchanged. Organizations fail to realize the impact of change on the employees it will affect and do not plan and execute carefully enough to address the people issues through all phases of business process change management. Today’s business environment is constantly changing as companies work to stay competitive. But change only happens when workers change their thinking, beliefs, and behaviors. This is hard and requires constant effort from employees and executives.

Change management methodologies abound. Look carefully at ADKAR from Prosci and John Kotter’s The 8-Step Process for Leading Change; read Crucial Conversations by Patterson et al. They are rich in change theory and suggestions. Choose one methodology or components of many methodologies. What’s critical is that you do not miss any of the following six principles:


The change manager (managing the people change) and the project manager (managing the technology change) must plan together; they work in parallel but have constant interaction to make sure the initiative is moving ahead on both fronts.

To make your change management efforts work, follow these best practices:

  • Get project sponsorship from a leader who understands people change management.
  • Make sure you have the change management resources and a budget.
  • Communicate constantly with employees by engaging them in discussions and keeping them informed.
  • Embed change principles in all business process improvement efforts both big and small.

To prepare adequately for change management, you need to hear from leaders who have managed change successfully — but not without stumbling and experiencing some failures along the way. Forrester’s Business Process Forum, which will take place on September 22 and 23 in Boston, will feature a keynote panel on change management that will include business and IT executives who are steeped in change management experience. They will interact around getting started with change, keeping the change efforts moving, and sustaining change until it’s embedded into the culture.


If personal change is not

If personal change is not addressed before a business process change is initiated (and the change is failing because of it), are there steps that can be taken to reverse the failure?

If People Change Was Neglected, Start Now

Thanks for your question, Travis. All is not lost. Get in as soon as possible and begin to communicate, communicate, communicate about the change, and the why of the change. At the same time get some training session going where employees have an opportunity to experience the new process and ask questions. Assemble a cadre of "believers" and have them be your eyes and ears to identify the hot spots of resistance and make sure you address those as quickly as possible. By not preparing the people, you change process may take longer and you may have more agitated employees but keep working on it, listen to employees, and help them move to the next phase.