Exploring why change so often fails to impact

2 min read

Overhead view of broken ice over dark ground.

Organisational or enterprise change fails more often than not. Many things are said about this, with frequent reasoning that people don’t like change, and therefore selling it is a tough enough task in itself.

Even outside a business context, you don’t have to look far to see change efforts failing to connect and impact. Think about election campaigns or political leaders not staying in power after a dedicated campaign of TV appearances and hugging babies.

In contrast where change efforts or campaigns have gone well, it's often when organisations or leaders have managed to engage the audience and make them part of the conversation, decision or future direction.

This isn’t related to best practice methodologies of change management (though they might have been in place) – it’s about a sense of genuine and authentic engagement and communication of this process to those impacted, and alignment across the stakeholders and leaders driving the change. 

In short, engagement and alignment are separate but connected and need to carefully planned out and considered. 

It's important, where possible, for the engagement to be prior to decision making and to circle back to those who have shared insights or feedback.

Another ingredient is when conversations are driven within teams by leaders – rather than consultants and internal strategy people (of which we've been both). The point about alignment is therefore related to those who are responsible for the change understanding why it's taking place and what their role is in driving it. 

In some circumstances change is set and it has to happen. In these cases, it’s important to consult around the way the change will be carried out, and share information as it comes to hand.

Achieving positive, long lasting impact can be complicated. But it is much harder to achieve if there isn’t a clear process around engagement and alignment from the outset.

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