With all the books, consultants, and decades of experience leading major organizational changes, I keep expecting the success rate of these major projects to rise, but the failure rate still remains high.
Back in 1995, when I first started writing about change in organizations, the failure rate was about 70 percent. In 2008, IBM conducted a major international study of C-level executives and found that only about 40 percent of those changes succeeded. In 2013, a Towers Watson study found a long-term success rate of 25 percent.
There are many good approaches to leading change, and you’ve probably tried at least a couple of them. But often there is something missing from those approaches–and that’s you.
There are four things that only you–the senior leader–can deliver. You can delegate and assign a lot of things, but you can’t hand off those four critical activities.
Although I believe that senior leaders are in a unique position to increase the odds in favor of successful change, I wanted to test my assumptions. I conducted a survey that confirmed my belief that senior leaders do have a unique and critically important role in leading change effectively.
This survey focused on the senior leader’s role in change. (Of course, many others must do their part to make large projects a success.) This study looked at changes such as merger integration, reorganizations, quality and productivity improvements like Lean and Six Sigma, new ERP systems (enterprise resource planning), and various large Human Resources projects that were considered successful by the individuals initiating them and their organizations. The survey respondents were candid with their answers and I’ve organized the results in an eBook called Squandered Opportunities: How leaders can eliminate threats to change.
Above is the link to the eBook. The results might surprise you.