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Monday, February 08, 2010

How to Make Organizational Change Enduring

Here's a real shocker:

In a survey of 3,300 senior managers and human resource professionals reported by Rob Lebow in his Washington CEO magazine
  • 75% of all organizational change programs fail
Why is change so hard?

Most organizations say their most important assets are their people, but few behave as if this were true. Change initiatives typically devote most budgets to structural issues such as technology and processes, not staff issues. There is still a whole notion of focusing on tangible assets and their impact on the bottom line, rather than the intangible assets, which are people. Organizations don't adapt to change; their people do.

Constant change in the organizational environment mean that leaders must not only learn about change and its impact on people and systems, leaders must be able to master the process of implementing change, just as their employees must learn to accommodate change.

Why do most change efforts fail?  Here's an analogy: As with a transplanted flower, it initially wilts after the transfer. However, in time with proper care, it stands upright again. With continued good care, it blossoms. The same holds true with the introduction (transplant or transfer) of a new system (a new idea, business-building method, best-practices, business improvement processes), the productivity curve drops (wilts) - but given proper support and care, the productivity curve loops upward on a continuous positive trend.

Transition trauma is little understood by business leaders, but it is a fact of organizational change.

Some misread the downward curve (wilt) as failure, often triggering inappropriate actions; rather then understanding it as transition trauma that is a normal readjustment, realignment and adaptive phase of change that requires trust, patience and on-going support.

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