MANAGING CHANGE: A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Change is everywhere; within every corner of our lives. It seems like EVERYTHING is changing. Yet, with all of this change, organizations are fairly bad at making change happen. Some research suggests that more than 60% of all organizational change efforts fail. This intrigues me, so I devoted my life to examining and understanding the issue of change in an effort to improve both organizational and individual chances of successfully implementing organizational change. I bring first hand insights from leadership experience inside of a Fortune 100 company, university research centers at the top business and engineering schools in America and Canada, and consulting experience with numerous public and non-profit organizations.
My research leads me to believe that with all this focus on change, there is a lot of confusion about how to create successful change. I think that there are two fundamental problems that organizations make when creating and implementing change. The first reason is that change programs fail because the created plan lacks the comprehensiveness that is required. For example, while quality tools like TQM, or Balanced Scorecard are useful improvement tools, they aren’t enough to make change happen. The second reason is that change programs are often only connected to one part of the organization and NOT connected to the entire organization. To overcome these two challenges, I think organizations need to have a recipe for change.
When baking a cake, sugar is necessary, but so too are flour, eggs, milk and butter. Before you start baking a cake, you want to make sure you have all the ingredients. I suggest the same approach for your change journey. The five ingredients for successful change are: a vision (where do you want to go), great leadership (who will take you there), a technical plan (what tools will you use to implement change), a social plan for implementing the technical plan (how will you enroll others to go where you want them to go), and a burning platform (why leave where you are).
While I use the analogy of a recipe to understanding organizational change, I don’t think you need to spend multiple years to become a change master. However, I do think that, much like baking a cake, just knowing the ingredients is never enough.
Relatively quickly, I believe you can learn from the challenges others have encountered in trying to implement change programs and understand how the different ingredients of your change program need to be created and blended together.
Dr. Washington teaches in the Business Leadership for Technical Professionals Program, the Management Essentials Program, and in various customized Executive Education programs.