Inatiatives Fail

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Why change initiatives still fail?

In his essay ‘Making change last: How to get beyond change fatigue’, Author Eric Beauden provides some reasons for the failure of change initiatives taking real world examples. In focus groups and one-on-one discussions with directors and middle managers, he was surprised to know that traditional reasons like unclear communications, half-hearted executive support or insufficient resources had nothing to do with change fails in organisations. He observed that in each case, the executive team initiated the change and everyone in the organisation worked hard for the its implementation but after two or three months into each change, paralysis set in and eventually everyone returned to their old operating mindset. Reason for this according to Eric Beauden, is that most change plans fail to adequately anticipate internal resistance and other unforeseen factors that cause change failure over time. The more change leaders focus on starting a change, the less energy and thoughtfulness they reserve for overcoming any issues arisen in the mid-course period of the change effort. Another reason for change failure according to Eric is the resistance builds during the critical mid-course. This passive resistance build up occurs during the launch phase and remains mostly underground.

Author’s theory is that every change reaches a point where it runs out of energy. According to him, a change curve has three components: 1. launch phase: people are enthusiastic and supportive at this stage 2. Mid-course phase: at this stage, stall occurs frequently. 3. Completion phase

The author gives six signs of change fatigue as follows:

1. The objectives of the change effort constantly being questioned by outsiders 2. Coordinators of change effort leaving
3. Reluctant to comment on effort
4. Resources being diverted to other initiatives
5. Impatience among customers because of the duration of change effort 6. Leaders not taking any interest in the progress review of change effort

The author also suggests some strategies for managing change efforts such as:

1. Rethinking your change goals and expectations and adjusting them to new circumstances 2. One also needs to consider the speed at which the change is going to be implemented. Having clear milestones is also essential to track the progress of change; an understanding what works and what doesn’t for your organisation is also important. 3. Mix of people working on the change is also effective as different efforts may need different expertise 4. Adding the element of excitement to change effort through presentations, speech etc. will show your commitment to the project and will contribute to the success of change effort. 5. Effective leadership is a key to the success of change

In the essay ‘Why most changes fail’, Rick Maurer says that the leaders and managers in an organization know to plan and lead big projects well but something gets in the way of turning all that knowledge into action. He uses the term "the knowing-doing gap’’ coined by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton to describe the large gap between what leaders know and what they actually do on the job. Whereas in his essay “why improvement efforts fail and what to do about it” Cenek Robert mentions that achieving competitive advantage through enhancing organizational effectiveness appears to be as difficult as other methods used to get ahead of the competition. Documented reports of some improvement initiatives and techniques failing or not meeting original expectations are becoming more commonplace. He refers to a survey in the January/February 1994 issue of the Harvard Business Review by Nohria and Berkley showing that 75 percent of the managers polled were unhappy with the results of the initiatives underway in their organization. In a similar 1994 Rath & Strong survey, only 41 percent of 186 senior executives from many of the...
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