Studies have shown that the failure rate of changes can range as high as 70% or even 80%. The failure rate tends to be higher for larger and more complex changes, such as transformations, mergers and acquisitions, and major technology implementations. On the other hand, smaller and more incremental changes tend to have a higher success rate.
Some common causes for change failure and transformation failure include:
- poor planning and execution
- lack of focusing on social and emotional aspects
- inadequate communication and engagement
- fear of change as well as reactance and resistance to change
- lack of clear objectives and benefits,
- inadequate support and training for employees.
A change is usually a planned and relatively short-term project to improve the performance, efficiency, or effectiveness of a specific area. Changes may be small or large in scope, and incremental or transformative in nature.
A transformation on the other hand is long-term and fundamental shift of an entire organisation regarding its culture, structure, processes, and systems. Transformations require significant investments of time, resources, and effort.
Both changes and transformations need to be managed professionally to succeed (change management).
A transformation is a long-term and fundamental shift of an entire organisation regarding its business-model, culture, structure, processes, and systems. Transformations require significant investments of time, resources, and effort.
A turnaround, on the other hand, is a more tactical and reactive effort to stabilise a company that is in a crisis or underperforming. Turnarounds typically involve cost-cutting measures, divestitures, and restructuring of the company’s operations and debt. The goal of a turnaround is to quickly restore profitability, cash flow, and stakeholder confidence, often through a combination of short-term fixes and longer-term strategic actions.
Both transformations and turnarounds need to be managed professionally to succeed (change management).
Change management is the systematic and professional planning, implementing, and monitoring of a change process in order to minimise risks like a declining performance of teams and maximise the expected benefits. Most of all, effective change management requires professional communication with all stakeholders and empowerment for those affected by the change.
With professional change management an organisation can improve its productivity and performance, reduce costs as well as increase its revenue and growth. Because by managing a change or transformation the time to achieve the desired results will be shortened, employees will increase their engagement and commitment to the change. Measuring the ROI of change management requires a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures.
The 5W1H questions (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How) can be a powerful tool for change management. Here’s how they can be used:
- WHY is the change or transformation necessary and why now?
- WHAT are the goals, objectives, risks of the change or transformation?
- HOW will the change be implemented, communication and engagement be managed, risks and challenges be addressed?
- WHEN will the change occur, key milestones be achieved, communication and engagement activities take place?
- WHERE will training, support, and other change-related activities be provided?
A change architecture typically includes several key components:
- A clear vision and strategy for the change initiative, including the objectives, goals, and desired outcomes.
- A governance structure that outlines the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders, such as the change sponsor, change agents, and project teams.
- A set of processes and tools that support the change initiative, such as change impact assessments, stakeholder engagement plans, and communication strategies.
- A plan for allocating resources, such as budget, staff, and technology, to support the change initiative.
- A set of metrics and evaluation criteria to measure the success of the change initiative and identify opportunities for improvement.
External transformation communications experts have experience working with a range of organisations and provide best practices and insights. Their objective outside perspective can help to identify sensitive or controversial aspects of a planned transformation. External experts provide additional capacity for internal teams to manage transformation communications effectively. And in the end they can be a cost-effective alternative to hiring and training new staff, or to diverting internal resources away from other projects.
External or interim change managers provide an objective perspective and can help to manage conflicts of interest or priorities. These conflicts occur quite often between internal stakeholders and regularly hinder a transformation to succeed.
In addition they can address potential risks and challenges as well as other sensitive or controversial aspects before work councils and employees would criticise them rightly.
Interim change managers also provide a structured approach that helps to accelerate the change process and get it implemented successfully. This can at the same time free up internal resources to focus on core business activities.
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