Why Change Management Doesn’t Work

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Answer? – One, but she/he has to want to change!

This old joke evokes some important truths about change:

  1. Change happens (i.e. light bulbs go out)
  2. Individuals don’t change unless they want to

Why Change Management Doesn’t Work

We human beings are complex and our lives are often complicated, full of emotional surprises and unexpected events. Organizations are nothing more than a collection of individuals, yet we have this illusion that when we step into the office everything is sanitized and logical. We want everything to neatly fit into our checklists and bullet points and matrices. I call this the “illusion of control.”

Change is messy. We can no more “manage change” in our workplace than we can in our private lives. Try to get your spouse or significant other to change when they don’t want to, and see how successful you are! This may have something to do with the oft quoted statistic that 70% of change initiates fail.

begin endWell Begun is Half Done

The alternative to “Change Management” are Integrated Change Strategies. Integrated implies a multi-dimensional view of the entire system where change is desired, even on something as seemingly simple as IT implementations.

Change Strategies implies strong, involved leadership at the outset of change initiatives, rather than looking at change as a tactical, bolt-on activity and passing responsibility off to lower level implementers or Project Management Offices (PMO’s).

When senior leadership is engaged strategically up front to ensure that the right problem is being addressed with the right approach tied to business objectives, the chances of success increase exponentially.

Direction is More Important than Speed

Once the right direction is established and leadership is truly involved, the traditional “Change Management” activities can take place, e.g. getting all key stakeholders involved, communicating, etc.

If you want to greatly boost the possibility of success on your next change initiative, contact us to see how we might help.