NUGGET: Say “NO” to changes that will not add value

We often hear a scary statistic about change:  40, 50, 60, 70% of all changes in organizations are viewed as failures.  They don’t achieve desired goals, they fall apart or are abandoned before they are complete, they overrun costs by orders of magnitude, etc.  These failure statistics come from questionnaires administered by various consulting firms, so I don’t really know what the truth is.  I do believe, however, that we can do a lot better – that immense amounts of energy, money, and other resources are wasted on changes that have gone awry or are poorly implemented.

After participating for over four decades in many big changes across industry sectors and around public institutions, I can say with certainty that two major mistakes are big culprits in change failures.

The first may surprise you, even though it is pretty obvious:  many changes should not be implemented at all:  they may replace something, but they don’t add enough value to justify the disruption and investment.  I have seen – and I’m sure you have – programs, systems and solutions brought in that merely caused turmoil, resistance, and even dislocation.  Maybe the changes were somebody’s attempt to just do something new, to make a mark – the new administration’s or the new boss’s way to shine.  Maybe the organization was sold on some fad (“the best companies do this!”) or lured into a simplistic solution for a troubling and complex issue.

Even if the impotent change does eventually replace an old way, if it doesn’t improve things, the experience will inoculate the organization to resist future changes with more gusto. The new but unnecessary program will just make it more difficult to justify important and needed changes in the future.  Inoculated people will just say, “Here we go again!”   Whatever the reason, a change that doesn’t add value or solve a problem will fail.  Say,  “No!”   Shut it down before it draws off important resources and discredits the validity of change as a vital human and organizational dynamic.

The second mistake is a big and common one:  not putting enough resources into the change process.  I’ll be writing about it in the next blog!

NUGGET:  Say “NO” to changes that will not add value

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