Is your organisation change set up for success… or failure?

June 29, 2016

If you have been reading anything on change management in the past, you would have heard the famous quote that 70% of change initiatives fail.

It began as an estimate in 2008 in a book that father of change management John Kotter wrote. Consulting firms like McKinsey and organisations like IBM later released reports to support this number.

Recently some experts have questioned the 70% number but it hasn’t changed a simple fact. Lots of change initiatives fail.

So what causes failure?

A better question is: what factors contribute to a successful change initiative?

This was answered in Prosci’s 2016 best practices report into change management. It identified the following as the top three factors contributing to successful change initiatives:

  • Active and visible executive sponsorship
  • Structured change management approaching
  • Dedicated change management resources

Let’s take a quick look at these top three factors that contribute to change management success.

Active and visible sponsorship

It is critical to have an organisation’s senior leaders seen to be active and visible in the change initiative.

This means being seen by employees through the whole life cycle of the project. They need to send communications around business reasons for the change, risks in not changing now and so on. They should be interacting with business leaders and management to make the case for change with them. They also need to manage resistance to the change, particularly from leaders.

Having a sponsor who merely signs their name on the project charter – and does nothing more – seriously undermines the success of a change project.

Being a project sponsor does not come naturally to many but is an important skill. That is why Change Enablement has a dedicated course that shows executives the steps to becoming an effective sponsor. Find out more here.

Structured change management approach

Change can often seem chaotic, but managing the change needs to be anything but that.

A structured approach to change management moves an organisation away from merely reacting to resistance to change and provides a solid framework for engaging and mobilizing impacted employees. It also makes it easier for change managers to implement and gain traction within the organisation.

An example of a structure for organisational change s Prosci’s change management methodology, which has three phases:

  • Prepare for change
  • Manage change
  • Reinforce change

Each phase has a series of activities and plans that help make the change more effective. Whilst the plan is simple and easy to implement, it is based on over two decades of research into what motivates people to change.

Change Enablement runs a three day Prosci accreditation course in change management for change practitioners. Find out more here.

Dedicated change management resources

If a company does not have dedicated resources to support the change initiative then change management activities will not get completed. Also, when there are no dedicated resources, change management activities too easily find themselves at the bottom of the priority list when budgets and schedules come under pressure.

Research also shows a connection between a change initiative’s success and how well the people side was managed.

Having dedicated resources for change management in a change context is very important for the success of the initiative. They need to be experienced change managers or equipped through training and/or coaching to manage the change.


Failure is not a good option for any business or organisation embarking on change. Therefore, it is important to take positive steps to make sure a change initiative is successful. Based on the 2016 Prosci Report, you can actively contribute towards success by adopting the following factors:

  • Having active and visible sponsors
  • Using a structured approach to managing the change
  • Having dedicated resources who are skilled in managing the change

Contact Change Enablement if you need help in equipping your employees or organisation so they can successfully manage change. We offer Prosci courses and services to support your organisation. Click here for more information

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