One of the biggest challenges I see in the premise of change management is that by the time it is identified and implemented, it’s already too late.

What is Change Management: Five Things Change Management Should Never Be That You Might Be Doing


Organizations today should be asking the question what is change management. Change is required when an organization initiates a new project, decides to tackle key challenges, or seizes a new opportunity. In fact, change is recruited on a daily basis if an organization wants to grow. If today’s marketplace has taught us one thing it’s that what made you successful yesterday is not what makes you successful tomorrow.

However, even with the reality of constant change, many organizations struggle with it both at the individual and at the organizational level. It’s easy to get tied to.

Often times an organization employs change management techniques when a major new initiative is being implemented that requires new behaviors of the business or makes a shift in the marketplace that demands new thinking and skill. But, even with the millions of dollars spent on change management projects and consultants, many will tell you that the majority of change management efforts fail to achieve needed results.

If at the root of change management is the need to understand how humans deal with change and what they need to be successful in making a change, why do change management initiatives have such a high failure rate?

I propose several reasons why:

  1. Treated As A Point In Time Exercise
  2. Turn Change Into Something That Happens To You
  3. Feels Like A Sudden And Sharp Shift
  4. You Have Zero Buy In
  5. Already Too Late When You Started

Let’s break each of these down for more context.

Treated As A Point In Time Exercise

When change management is treated like a point in time exercise, your teams will also treat the change you are trying to initiate in the same way. That means it starts, and then it stops. And when it stops, people go back to their old ways of thinking and behaving. It’s setting up change as something you can ride out until it’s over.


Turn Change Into Something That Happens To You

In the best selling book, Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath, they talk about the fact that “people don’t fear change, they fear being changed.” When change is presented to people as something you need to “get through” you turn change into something that is out of a person’s control. Change becomes something that is happening to them. It creates a barrier between the person that needs to change and the change you are trying to create. That barrier creates incredible resistance.
At LaunchStreet, we view change as something to harness, not resist. We do this by transforming change from a scary barrier into a leveragable asset. Small shifts in thinking and behavior every day. Then, when the big changes are required, people are on board and almost excited to tackle it.


Feels Like A Sudden And Sharp Shift

Just imagine the scenario. It’s Thursday and you are called to an all company meeting. Your fearless leader stands at the podium and shares that you will no longer be serving the customer you’ve been marketing to for years. Now, you are going after a completely new customer because leadership has determined that is where the next wave of opportunity can be found. And, you know what? They are probably right, but think about how that feels to the person hearing it for the first time. It’s like a shock to the system. And that shock to the system creates fear, hurt and more resistance. Nobody wants to make a sudden shift.

We encourage our clients to drop the sharp shift mindset and move towards 2% shifts every day that, over time, get you to that blue ocean place. We can all do tiny little shifts every day but that sharp right turn hurts way too much.


You Have Zero Buy-In

Buy-in matters, and organizations that assume that a mandate from high above is going to get the results they are looking for is fooling themselves. Buy-in happens when people feel engaged in the process and feel that their voices are heard. When outside change management experts come in and dictate the situation, buy-in decreases to almost zero. Even if it’s the right thing to do, people need to feel valued and heard.


Already Too Late When You Started

One of the biggest challenges I see in the premise of change management is that it’s already too late by the time it is identified and implemented. The change and buy-in you need to move forward was needed yesterday. The time and energy put into setting up change management processes are time better spent helping people shift their perspectives on change and come up with innovative solutions they can own and implement.

So what’s the alternative to the traditional model of top down, one-time only change management? It’s building a culture of innovation across all the ladders of the organization. It’s a culture where innovation is a mindset and ongoing process. It's a culture where everyone in the organization is engaged and has the tools they need, like our online micro-lesson training program, the affordable IQE Pro Innovation Toolkit, which equips your company with the right tools to master their evolving work.