Only 30% Initiatives Succeed, 70% Fail:
Most organizational change efforts cost more and take longer than leaders and managers anticipate; two of three transformations fail. But why? Research by John Kotter in Leading Change (1996) and a large survey of 3199 executives by McKinsey (2008) confirmed Kotter’s research. That’s a lot of failures!
The 5+2 Reasons
The model for Managing Complex Change by Tim Knoster (1991) provides a good starting point, but its five factors do not explain everything. In our experience, there are seven contributing factors to consider, adding lack of alignment and poor communication to Knoster’s five-factor model:
The 7 Key Factors to Successful Change
Those reasons for change failure are: (1) lack of leadership or unclear vision, e.g. “we are good at everything”, (2) weak alignment or lack of buy-in and participation, (3) insufficient resources to execute the vision or frequently changing priorities, (4) lack of direction or unclear plan to get there, (5) lack of skills or insufficient training, (6) no reasons to act due to missing incentives, and (7) under-communicating a powerful vision or over-communicating a poor vision.
Why Expanding the Model?
Because we are often engaged to bring projects back on track or revive a failed initiatives, the first question we always ask our clients: “What has prevented you from solving the problem in the past?”. When mapping the answers on a grid we can narrow down project failure to 7 key factors.
What's Your Experience?
When looking at the projects and programs that you led or participated in, can you attribute success and failures to the same 7 key factors? Are there fewer or other ones we may have missed? For example, you might say that the vision encompasses communication, so it’s rather one key instead of two etc.