Most business change professionals will be aware of the statistics showing that the majority of transformation programmes fail to deliver the expected outcomes.

Preparation for the long and difficult change journey is often seen as a cost to be avoided, rather than an investment to be nurtured; the thrill and value is seen to lie in grappling with the problem, not ensuring readiness to do so. However, delivering transformational change is not the same as running the day-to-day operation.

Why does change fail so suddenly? What causes failure?


Project One is often asked by clients to investigate failing change initiatives

Understandably, the client tends to ask two questions: ‘Why did the change fail so suddenly?’ And, ‘what caused the failure?’

Generally, failure isn’t sudden – though the programme reporting might suggest that it is. Problems can often develop in the background over a long period, and often because of an initial flaw.

The good news is that failure isn’t inevitable, and that it is possible to reduce significantly the risk. One of our key services is helping clients to navigate from strategy to action, bridging that gap between glittering ambition and the allure of delivery more surely, and so shortening the odds on successful transformation. Our approach is based on eight cornerstones that together form the vital foundation on which successful change is built. On those occasions when we review a failing programme, one or more of these cornerstones is often missing or weak. The corollary is often equally true: success correlates with strong cornerstones.


And what are the cornerstones?

  • a specific set of strategic imperatives;
  • a clear vision, with articulated outcomes;
  • an outline operating model;
  • definition of the mindset and attitude needed for the journey;
  • a high-level delivery roadmap, with the target enablers of successful change identified as work packages;
  • a view of transition states;
  • a business change plan; and,
  • a benefits plan.

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POSTED BY: Peter Lewis - Consultant


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