From ERP and Technology Implementations to Shared Services to Lean Six Sigma and other process improvement initiatives, change is everywhere. But in our experience, only 25-30% of all business changes achieve full benefit realization.
That is a staggering statistic if you think about it. This means that approximately 70% of business initiatives fail to achieve what has been promised on time and to spec. Perhaps not out and out failure, but money has been left on the table.
7 Common Barriers to Change
Why does this keep happening? Here’s what the research from our change management consulting tells us are 7 of the most common “speedbumps” getting in the way of organizational change projects.
- Lack of a Rigorous Project Management System and Discipline
We have talked about the importance of governance, a key element of project management. If the organization is investing in enterprise-wide change, or any type of complex change, it goes without saying that professional project management is essential.
- Wrong Status-Reporting Mechanisms
It’s important that status-reporting include progress and risks across all 5 measurement dimensions of success:
- on time
- on budget
- business objectives met
- technical objectives met
- human objectives met
One of the major benefits of the Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) is that it serves as a risk-dashboard for your change. By employing the measurement diagnostics such as the Implementation Risk Forecast at milestones throughout the project, you can identify where risks are emerging that need to be addressed.
- Low Accountability or Risk-Averse Culture or Poor Implementation History
Who exactly is accountable for the success of your project? Is it just the project team? What about your Reinforcing Sponsors—do they have any accountability? (We know you can expect the most resistance from mid-to upper-level managers.) And if you have identified that your organization has a risk-averse culture, how are you changing the Reinforcements so that it becomes politically safe to drive innovation?
- Agents and Sponsors are Seduced by Activity
Simply put, your project team can be very busy, but are you busy doing the right things? Change is dynamic and iterative, and you must constantly have your fingers on the pulse of where resistance is emerging and whether you are getting what you need from Sponsors. You can’t be so locked into the plan that you are not adapting to current developments.
- Fire-Fighting “Arsonists” are Rewarded
One of the common problems we see in our change management consulting is that by rewarding the individuals who fix the crises, the organization is actually encouraging the crises themselves. It becomes a self-replicating behavior. This is why creating a “burning platform” for change doesn’t work! You encourage the fires!
- Agents are Seduced by Actions that are “Safe” but have Low Impact
The pace of your project is based on Sponsor drive, not on the level of project activity from the project team. So it stands to reason that if your team isn’t focused on securing active Sponsorship, creating Reinforcement, and dealing with resistance, you may not be focused on the “right stuff.”
- Scarce Resources Aren’t Targeted by Measurement for Maximum Impact
Since you will never have all the resources you need for Implementation, the key is to target those resources in the places where you will get the greatest impact. You can’t do that without measurement—that’s why the AIM measurement diagnostic tools are so useful. Remember, the more often you measure, followed by positive and negative Reinforcements, the faster you can go.
How to Fight Back
To fight back against the plague of sub-optimized projects, organizations need to employ a structured approach to Implementation, with skilled leaders and Change Agents who have explicit accountabilities, rewards, and consequences for the implementation of change projects. Organizations need Implementation capability, not just installation capability, if the organization is going to achieve full Return on Investment.
IMA’s proprietary Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) provides systemic, systematic principles, strategies, and tactics that can be the central cog of every project life cycle, regardless of your project management protocols. It serves as a robust planning and execution tool for the people side of any Implementation. Using the AIM Change Management model is one way to avoid these 7 common barriers, and the best way to take a step in the right direction toward value realization for your change initiatives.