Top Ten Reasons Why Change Initiatives Fail


As unfortunate as it is, most leadership teams aren’t very good at driving change initiatives. Just consider the following facts:

  • An Ernst and Young study of 584 companies found that the majority of quality initiatives failed to achieve significant improvement.

  • Michael Hammer and James Champ estimate that “as many as 50 to 70% of the organizations that undertake a reengineering effort do not achieve the dramatic results they intended.”

  • Kepner-Tregoe found that only 20% of respondents to a survey on change initiatives indicated that their initiatives met or exceeded expectations.

  • Another Kepner-Tregoe study found that nearly 2/3 of executives surveyed felt that employee morale was “worse” or “the same” as a result of the change initiatives.

  • More than 60% rated their employees’ reactions to organizational change as neutral, skeptical, or actively resistant.

Now think of a successful organizational change that you’ve experienced (if you can). What were the key factors that contributed to the success of the change effort?

Most people will tell you that people fear change. That flat out, is not the case. People don’t fear change, they fear being changed! It is not the change that scares them, it’s the transition! Change is an extraordinarily natural and normal practice that people routinely embrace . . . on their own terms. When people are in the driver’s seat of change, seeking out learning, opportunity, and growth, they usually view change as their ally to their personal success.

Here are the top ten reasons change initiatives fail in business:

#10: A Lack of Urgency. Many change efforts fail because they have failed to create a “felt need” or a sense of urgency throughout the organization. Before selling people on the opportunities and benefits of a change, people must first experience the need to change.

#9: An Absence of Measurable Outcomes. As Vince Lombardi said, “If you’re not keeping score, you’re only practicing.” Change efforts often fail because they neglect to define and focus on specific and measurable outcomes. Every change effort must have clear metrics that enab