Research indicates that around 60-80% * of implementations of new working practices or change interventions in organisations are either ineffective, counter-productive or below expectations. Management often struggles to achieve ‘buy-in’: well-intentioned implementation strategies cascade down through the hierarchy, effectively imposing reform on unwilling staff. Resistance and antipathy are the natural human responses. The reverse also occurs – change that staff want is blocked by management.
Compulsion isn’t effective in practice. People have a habit of resisting directives from above, or feeling disengaged when not consulted. Conversely ideas and perspectives of staff are often not heard – innovative suggestions rarely flow upward through hierarchy. Staff become disengaged, the common symptoms of which are dissatisfaction and dysfunction. Consequently, after an initial burst of enthusiasm or reluctant compliance, new systems falter and we revert to old habits. Change, all too often, doesn’t last.
* Estimates vary but there is broad agreement across many studies and across many contexts and industries, and 2/3 is a commonly used figure. Please see our resources page to find out more.
Thankfully, there is a way forward
“Too many change efforts start with all the managers getting together behind closed doors and deciding what should be done. They never think of telling their people what is going to happen and why, let alone canvassing their opinions, ideas or suggestions because they are the people closest to the front line and who just might be able to see what ultimate impact the change could have on the customer.” Ken Blanchard, ‘Mastering the art of change’
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