Why do Change Initiatives Fail ?

In educational literature, there are numerous analyses of the reasons for failure, ‘but also no agreed basis or methodology for addressing the shortfalls’. (Higgs and Rowland, 2000)

Recently I blogged on action planning incorporating Kotter, Fullan, and Lewin here. In that blog, I identify different chronological stages for change management.

‘Some have estimated that as many as 70 percent of change initiatives fail.’ (Higgs and Rowland, 2000)

‘Some have estimated that as many as 70 percent of change initiatives fail.' (Higgs and Rowland, 2000) Click To Tweet

Successful Factors in Change Management

Let us look at the factors required for successful change. The table below seems simple once read, but leadership models usually do in hindsight.

Knoster identifies 5 essential factors of change.

  1. Visons
  2. Skills
  3. Incentives
  4. Resources
  5. Action Plan

Then evaluates the conclusion of missing components.

Vision

Skills Incentives Resources Action Plan = Success

Vision

Skills Incentives Resources =

False Starts

Vision

Skills Incentives Action Plan =

Frustration

Vision

Skills Resources Action Plan =

Resistance

Vision

Incentives Resources Action Plan =

Anxiety

Skills Incentives Resources Action Plan =

Confusion

Knoster, T., Villa R., & Thousand, J. (2000). A framework for thinking about systems change. In R. Villa & J. Thousand (Eds.), Restructuring for caring and effective education: Piecing the puzzle together (pp. 93-128). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Which Skills do Leaders need to Possess and Develop to Facilitate Sucessful Change?

Higgs and Rowlands 2001 identify the following,

  1. Change Initiation (CIN): Ability to create the case for change and secure credible sponsorship.
  2. Change Impact (CIM): Ability to scope the breadth, depth, sustainability and returns of a change strategy.
  3. Change Facilitation (CF): Ability to help others, through effective facilitation, to gain insight into the human dynamics of change and to develop the confidence to achieve the change goals.
  4. Change Leadership (CL): Ability to influence and enthuse others, through personal advocacy, vision and drive, and to access resources to build a solid platform for change.
  5. Change Learning (CLE): Ability to scan, reflect and identify learning and ensure insights are used to develop individual, group and organisational capabilities.
  6. Change Execution (CEX): Ability to formulate and guide the implementation of a credible change plan with appropriate goals, resources, metrics and review mechanisms.
  7. Change Presence (CP): Demonstrates high personal commitment to achievement of change goals through integrity and courage, while maintaining objectivity and individual resilience (‘a non-anxious presence in a sea of anxiety’).
  8. Change Technology (CT): Knowledge, generation and skilful appreciation of change theories, tools and processes.

Leaders should evaluate their weaknesses with the five factors of change or vice versa with the table below. Then look at the following skills they should personally develop to ameliorate their vulnerabilities and to bolster the chances of the successful change.

Leaders should evaluate their weaknesses with the five factors of change or vice versa with the table below. Click To Tweet
Vision Skills Incentives Resources Action Plan
Change Initiation (CIN): Ability to create the case for change and secure credible sponsorship.

X

X

X

Change Impact (CIM): Ability to scope the breadth, depth, sustainability and returns of a change strategy.

X

X

X

Change Facilitation (CF): Ability to help others, through effective facilitation, to gain insight into the human dynamics of change and to develop the confidence to achieve the change goals.

X

X

X

Change Leadership (CL): Ability to influence and enthuse others, through personal advocacy, vision and drive, and to access resources to build a solid platform for change.

X

X X

X

Change Learning (CLE): Ability to scan, reflect and identify learning and ensure insights are used to develop individual, group and organisational capabilities.

X

X

Change Execution (CEX): Ability to formulate and guide the implementation of a credible change plan with appropriate goals, resources, metrics and review mechanisms.

X

X

X

Change Presence (CP): Demonstrates high personal commitment to achievement of change goals through integrity and courage, while maintaining objectivity and individual resilience (‘a non-anxious presence in a sea of anxiety’).

X

X

Resources

Jon Griffith (2001) Why change management fails, Journal of Change Management, 2:4, 297-304, DOI: 10.1080/714042516

Malcolm Higgs & Deborah Rowland (2001) Developing change leaders: Assessing the impact of a development programme, Journal of Change Management, 2:1, 47-64, DOI: 10.1080/714042485

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