Closing the change gap

A study carried out by IBM in 2009 on “Making Change Work” included the results of a survey from 1,500 Change Practitioners worldwide, the results were staggering.

Just 41% of projects were considered successful in meeting project objectives within planned time, budget and quality constraints.

The remaining 59% of projects missed at least one objective or failed entirely.

Gartner in their research indicate that up to 75% of all IT Projects fail.

The Chaos Report in 2009 from The Standish Group provided alarming figures of 44% of projects were challenged (late, over budget and/or with less than the required features and functions) while 24% failed (cancelled) prior to completion or delivered and never used).

The question at the forefront of businesses today when faced with facts and figures such as those is how do we make change successful?

With statistics such as those above businesses are right to question the value in attempting to deliver business transformation when they may believe that they are doomed for failure even before they start.

At CBO we believe that delivering successful projects and change is something that all businesses can achieve.  Success often starts with a change of thinking towards change. In today’s dynamic work environment there are multiple enablers and accelerators of change, whether it is technology advances, complex multinational organisations, the impact of globalisation or a challenging economic situation, businesses are required to reframe their view of “normal”.

We believe that change, transformation, evolution, revolution and renewal is the new normal for businesses.

For businesses to prosper, thrive and lead they will need to breakaway from expecting the day to day operations to continuously fall into a static and predictable pattern that may include short periods of change.

The new normal is continuous change, not the absence of change.

Businesses that embrace this “new norm” will move from merely responding to trends, to shaping them, driving them and leading them. We have said it before and we will continue to say it, the ability to manage change successfully must become a core competency within businesses.

What are some of the common challenges organisations face? Why is there this “change gap” between success and failure?

Some of the major change challenges when implementing change highlighted in the IBM Study were:

  • Changing mindsets and attitudes
  • Corporate culture
  • Complexity is understated
  • Shortage of resources
  • Lack of commitment of higher management
  • Lack of change know how
  • Lack of transparency because of missing or wrong information
  • Lack of motivation
  • Change of process
  • Change of IT systems
  • Technology barriers

Successful change agents and transformation champions have realised that behavioural and cultural change are critical to the success of projects and change. The challenges highlighted in the IBM Study certainly indicate that the “soft factors” are high on the list of challenges, within the same study the research also indicated that “soft factors” were also included in delivering successful projects and change, for example:

  • Top management sponsorship
  • Employee involvement
  • Honest and timely communication
  • Corporate culture that motivates and promotes change
  • Change agents (pioneers of change)
  • Change supported by culture
  • Efficient training programs
  • Adjustment of performance measures
  • Efficient organisation structure
  • Monetary and non-monetary incentives

There is no single answer to delivering successful projects and change, but there are clear steps that businesses can take to reduce and eventually eradicate the change gap between the failure and the success.

Businesses can no longer afford an ad-hoc approach to projects and change.

There is now a turning point in project management and change, where it needs to move from an ad-hoc, sporadic and reactive approach to a systematic approach based on intelligence and insight into what works & what doesn’t, the application of better skills and a culture that embraces change as the new norm.

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