Why change efforts fail nearly 70% of the time

Even under the best of circumstances nearly 70 percent of all change initiatives fail. That’s a shocking rate considering all of the effort that companies put into the process—and how much is riding on a successful outcome—especially these days.


What’s the main reason for failure?


Leaders don’t involve or address the concerns of the people affected by the change.


I was thinking about all of the change that is on the drawing boards of companies—including ours—as we look for ways to stay profitable.  So I went back into my notes to an interview that I conducted with Dr. Patricia Zigarmi, our change expert here at the company.  What Pat shared with me was that if leaders would just focus on three concerns that all people have, they could greatly enhance the probability of change succeeding in their organizations. 

  • The first area to address is around information concerns. People want to know what the proposed change is all about, what you are seeing, and why things have to change.
  • The second area involves personal concerns. People want to know how the change will be good for them personally—not just good for the company.   They also want to know if they will be able to master the new skills the change requires.
  • The third area is around the nitty-gritty implementation concerns such as system alignment, best practices, and the daily mechanics of making the change happen.

 If you’re interested in exploring this a little further, check out the free Change Readiness Quiz at our website.  Once you take the quiz, you can also download the Top 15 Reasons Why Change Efforts Fail

3 thoughts on “Why change efforts fail nearly 70% of the time

  1. The three things Patricia Zigarmi offers are certainly present in the hearts and minds of people experiencing change. Surrounding organizations and communities where change is either needed or being advocated by the leaders is the question of Connection. How do I or we feel connected to the Leaders and to our immediate mangagers. The more people feel a connection with each other and with the leaders who define the change and the managers who have to execute the change the greater the possibility there is a foundation for “sustained change.” Connection precedes trust and is an energetic experience based on sensing the intentions of the managers and leaders. It is not what they say it is how they say it and how they engage. Further it is not how they say it — it is the intentions they have. It is how they hold the people whom they are leading. So communication that is one way and highly polished does not lead to connection. Communication based on the intention to minimize emotional reactions, misdirect, do damage control, keep people focused also do not lead to connection. Communication with the intention to create fear in order to motivate also does not lead to connection. The leadership intention to create fear leads to movement not connection. The foundation for change is always based upon connection. Many leaders (especially politicians) base their position on creating change and try to use fear to get people to move with them. This again leads to movement not sustained change. President Obama’s campaign was successful in part becasue he worked hard to create connections. The people he did create connection with believed he is committed to change. They accepted and embraced his slogan “Change we can believe in.” Leaders who want to create change pay attention to their INTENTIONS and invest in CREATING CONNECTIONS. This is different than trying to create trust. Trust is an outcome based on many factors. The journey to creating a relationship full of trust begins by simply holding the intention to create connection. The first movement of a leader to create connection begins with listening. This is a very different approach than commonly used by the majority of our leaders in business, politics and religion. The first movement of most leaders is to talk, to send information, to sell. This does not lead to connection. It might create some sparks which are different than connection. Leaders seriously interested in “sustained change” hold the intention to create connection and spend a good deal of their time listening.

    • Michael, I concur with you 100% about creating connection and not fear. Leadership is bestowed on individuals because they have a special something and that should be the ability to listen and observe which guides ideas to develop and can cause change efforts to be successful. Most people like seeing their ideas and name in lights. A strong leader does not need the spotlight rather they would send the light towards others and give the credit or recognition to the team that they lead because it takes more than one to make a successful change to take place. Thank you for your insight

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