“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” What better way to start an article about Change and Leadership than to quote John Maxwell? If some people are afraid of change, others have chosen to embrace it, nurture it and use it as a wonderful tool of prosperity for their enterprises. In a world that renews itself in a blink of an eye, change has become a field of its own. Which means, people have learned how to gain from it, by failing a few times for you first. Here are 6 reasons you will fail to implement change if you haven’t read this article co-written by our experts: Kirsten Dewilde and Pieter Reijniers, Agile Transformation & Change Leads at Wemanity.
1. Changing for the Wrong Reasons
Change without purpose is pointless. A first and basic reason why change might fail within an organization is simply because you wanted it, or needed it, but never took the time or the council necessary to understand why.
Another pointless thing to do would be listing the infinite wrong reasons there are and could be. But lucky for you they all have one thing in common: a lack of perspective.
“Changing for the wrong reasons is one of the most typical reasons why change might fail within a company. Some organizations only want an Agile transformation to save on people or resources, or because they want a faster delivery system. That’s sometimes the only reason why they want to change, and that’s obviously changing for the wrong reason.” Kirsten Dewilde, Agile Transformation & Change Lead at Wemanity.
Large companies looking to implement important changes in their organizational structure, their business processes or their corporate culture often do it for one simple reason: profit. But in the race to profit, many people trip and fall badly.
Let’s go back to perspective. We live in a VUCA world (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) that makes a situation or condition difficult to analyse, respond to or plan for. Perspective helps you understand that you don’t need to make profit fast, but you need to keep making it during whatever tomorrow has in reserve for you.
So you don’t want to change, but to improve your processes, not for fast profit but for prosperity. Securing the future of your company is the best reason to turn towards Agile.
“Change might be necessary if your enterprise must align with new technologies or if a more efficient usage of the digital might improve the fluidity of the organization, a department, or processes. Change can happen for cultural reasons as well, such as improving equity among collaborators, or even simply for organizational matters after a merger or an acquisition. But it should never be done from a short-term perspective. You don’t want to fix your company, you want to take care of it.” Kirsten Dewilde, Agile Transformation & Change Lead at Wemanity.
2. Rushing to the Solution
Don’t rush towards failure! It’s like hitting your toe in a corner because you missed your alarm clock and now you are even later. You only made it worse by panicking. So how not to break a toe in the process you might ask? Preparation. Preparation is key!
Change takes time to settle and even more time to show results, so it’s no wonder the preparation in order to implement it will take time too. Taking time allows you to understand the complexity of the task and also the imponderable. Not understanding every aspect of the task simply leads to failure.
This is why, once more, a company needs perspective. If you can, get the help from specialised consultants like a Change Manager, who should be involved from the very start of the project.
The Change Manager can intervene in any type of situation involving a transformation stage and at all levels of its development: project to revitalise the operation of a company, general restructuring project or overhaul project. The Change Manager uses change management, an essential practice that aims to maintain the productivity of a company. Indeed, change management encompasses a set of processes that facilitates adaptation to change within the company, as we have seen above.
“Change management should be part of the project from the start of the transformation. If not, it can actually turn into a worst-case scenario, as people will spend a lot of energy and time on the visible part of change, but the human side will be disregarded.” Kirsten Dewilde, Agile Transformation & Change Lead at Wemanity.
Secondly, not rushing is also giving you the time necessary to adapt.
Following a plan is great, but what happens when it goes sideways? If mistakes happen, if elements you weren’t aware of before appear during the process? Rushing blinds you and it makes you stubborn. By only focusing on how fast you want to reach your goal you forget to take the time necessary to overcome the many obstacles in your way.
A Change Manager will help you in identifying red flags and adapting according to those. If signals are not taken into account and/or if the organization continues following the initial plan without any adaptations, the change process will take an unwanted or even opposite turn.
So, the name of the game is patience and guidance. You cannot implement true durable and effective change without taking time to build a solid process and a strong leadership.
3. Lack of Involvement from the Leadership
Every expert in agility knows it: It’s essential for the organization’s leadership to get involved into the change process every step of the way. Leaders are the driving force of any company or project and a lack of involvement from them will lead to failure.
But involving a “Leader” is an easy thing to just throw around and call it good advice. The true advice would be to focus on what defines a leader and how his involvement is crucial to implement change.
A Leader doesn’t just ask for change, he shows how change can be easily overcome. He is an example for the rest of the employees, proof they are not the only ones required to change within the organization. Therefore, the organization’s leadership should always be the forerunner of change.
“Leaders are responsible for triggering change. If they are not able to communicate the importance and the urgency of the change, it won’t move into the right direction. This is key for every change.’’ Pieter Reijniers, Agile Transformation & Change Lead at Wemanity
So change is not only involving leaders, but redefining them. As a prosperous company, you need people who do not lead in fear of punishment or sanction but in service of purpose and passion. Someone who learns how to help his team work in new and more effective ways by talking to them and better understanding their needs.
4. Disregarding the Human Side of Change
Which brings us to the human side of change. Disregarding the human side, a changing process is one of the most typical reasons change might fail.
Permanent and effective change is not based on strong and irrefutable data but on willing minds. True and effective organizational change comes from management but ends and depends on the team and the individual.
“It’s a typical mistake from too many organizations: looking at time, scope, and cost of change, but they don’t take into account the energy people need for change.“After all, a well-designed journey and a clear road won’t be enough if the driver has no fuel in the car. People are the same, they don’t need only means, but also motivation. And that’s the energy necessary to bring change.’’ Pieter Reijniers, Agile Transformation & Change Lead at Wemanity
They may be hidden, but several techniques exist to bring the motivation out, and change
managers bring them along the way such as believing in people and empowering them by trusting them.
As an example of change based on human resources, the Agile way of working puts people back in the spotlight and greatly promotes interactions, as a new source of wealth and creativity.
5. Lack of Clarity and Communication
We discussed the leadership’s involvement, and part of their role is communicating about the change project. Actually, a lack of communication as a whole is another of the reasons for failure in a change project.
Communication and transparency are the keys to a successful agile transformation. In the absence of traditional hierarchies and organizational systems, it becomes particularly easy to interrupt communication and create an imbalance between teams and leaders.
From a leadership perspective, transparency is the foundation of trust and helps create a collaborative environment based on a shared vision. And both at the team level and at the organizational level, it reinforces accountability, the culture of feedback and innovation.
So, let’s say you are not achieving your goals, pay attention to how you communicate them. Are you transparent to your employees about your objectives, plans, and values? Do you encourage feedback and ensure that your employees can express and receive constructive comments?
“Collaborators must always be aware of the reasons why such change is processed. Communication about the timeline of the project, what is expected from collaborators, etc., must be fluid at all costs.” Kirsten Dewilde and Pieter Reijniers, Agile Transformation & Change Leads at Wemanity.
If communication must be fluid regarding its content, it couldn’t be truer about its direction.
Messages must be clear from top to bottom and vice versa while silos between departments shouldn’t exist. If you don’t communicate well, you might not even see the failure to come.
6. Thinking Change Is Complete When the Project Is Over
If this is not another classic reason for anything to fail: thinking you’ve finally achieved something but letting it go too fast. Don’t sell the skin till you have caught the bear. Change never stops and that’s why change management focuses more on changing the people’s mindset rather than the organization itself. Because implementing change successfully is being able to do it constantly.
On the technical side, there is a beginning and an end in an OCM project. It can last from a few months to a year, but a project will only end when it’s made sure people are in a good mindset. Change, beyond the project, can take a lot of time to be fully implemented and effective.
‘’If you really want to make a cultural and mindset change, it could take several years. The ultimate goal of change management remains to help people and the organization embrace ongoing change and a lifelong learning culture.’’ Kirsten Dewilde, Agile Transformation & Change Leads at Wemanity.
Wemanity designed their own change management framework and help their clients with the preparation and application of their organizational, cultural and/or digital change.
Do you need help initiating the most important change of your organization’s life? Discover our offers to get help from our experts and avoid those six reasons for failure.
What are the typical reasons why organizational change management might fail?
There are many reasons why change might fail in an organization, but the most important ones are the lack of involvement from the leadership of the organization, changing for the wrong reasons, disregarding the human side of change, and thinking change is complete when the OCM project is over.
How important is the organization’s leadership in the change process?
It’s essential for the organization’s leadership to get involved in the change process. Leaders are the driving force of the project and a lack of involvement would be a synonym for failure. Leaders can’t ask for change and not show nor follow the example. Collaborators are not the only ones to change within the organization. Therefore, the organization’s leadership should always be the forerunner of change. The initiative must come from leaders, and not from consultants that are hired to manage change.
What are the wrong reasons for change?
Overall, those are the reasons which take only the output into consideration, which is rarely a long-term approach. Change might simply fail if the organization is doing so for more profits, whether it means increasing revenue or decreasing production time. Another wrong reason for change is changing for reputation.