From poor leadership to a lack of direction. Avoid these mistakes to ensure successful implementation of your change management plan
James Aherne

James Aherne, a director at Renault-Nissan Consulting, discusses why so many change management initiatives fail.


Any change management initiative requires a number of different elements in order to be successful. As with many business improvement tasks, it is crucial that any organisation starts with a robust change management plan, or the programme is likely to fail. We’ve examined this and a number of other reasons businesses fail on the path to excellence, below.


The all-important change management plan

It seems obvious to state that a change management plan is an essential element in order to achieve any kind of change within your organisation, but it is surprising how many organisations don’t begin this way. A detailed roadmap including objectives and end goals, as well as key roles and areas of responsibility, is just one of the ways you can ensure change management works from the very start. Fail to plan and you’ll find your team is unlikely to understand the tasks assigned to them and that your efforts to move closer to your ‘True North’ are hampered.


The culture shift

When many people begin a change management initiative, they often fall into the trap of believing it has a start date and an end date. Once the goals are achieved they can pat themselves on the back over a job well done. But in reality, although change does often have a target completion date, it is something that must be engrained in an organisation’s culture. The desire to implement or review change constantly is something that successful, excellent businesses must instil in their team members. Only then can you become an organisation that focuses on continuous improvement. In order to succeed with your change management, think of it not as a one-off project, but as an endless, strategic and cultural endeavour.


Why change?

Make sure you understand and communicate the reason for your change management initiative. Not only is this important for motivating and informing members of your team, it is also valuable when people lose focus or your plan goes off track. During challenging times, or if you are trying to make a big decision regarding your direction, knowing the purpose of your change management drive will ensure you can make the right move.


Identifying your true, ‘True North’

Many organisations fail when executing their change management plan because they lack a clear vision. This can also be referred to as the end goal or the official term in Continuous Improvement, ‘True North’. Without this, your change management initiative is likely to result in an uncertain workforce and poor processes.


Proper leadership

Without appropriate and strong leadership, your change management initiative is likely to fail. This is because weak instructions or a lack of clarity about the purpose of your change project can lead to resistance from staff members and a lack of faith or trust in the people taking control of a particular area or task. No matter the size of your change management project, setting clear objectives for each leader at every stage will ensure you can move through the process without friction. Moreover, you can move forward making fundamental changes that together, will create an organisation run with a culture of continuous improvement and excellence.


Timing and commitment

Unfortunately, effective business change doesn’t happen overnight. This is another significant reason why many change initiatives fail. When it comes to a detailed, lengthy or complex change management plan, often the end goal seems too distant, momentum can wane and people give up. By understanding that change is a constant process of improvement, with various stages, completion dates and milestones, you are more likely to achieve success as a business.

You can read more about successfully implementing a change management plan within your organisation in our recent blog article.

To discuss your business improvement project or journey to operational excellence, contact

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