I like learning from others’ mistakes. It’s satisfying and it can save a lot of hassle. It’s true that mistakes are part of the learning process but there’s no point in making avoidable mistakes.
Amusing examples of avoidable but tragic mistakes can be found in the Darwin Awards. Just in case you have not come across these, they salute the improvement of the human gene pool by honouring those who remove themselves from it. The awards go to individuals who have not really thought things through – such as the armed thief who attempted to rob a gun shop!
So, when Change Management programmes fail – and research shows that the majority do fail – are these avoidable or unavoidable mistakes? To what extent is it a case of organisations assuming too much and not thinking the process through?
Well, there’s a great deal of literature available on change management – just try “Googling” the subject. Given the amount that is known about change management, it could reasonably be argued that most of the failures are avoidable.
Just for the record, so that you can avoid them, here are some of the widely-known mistakes made with change management programmes:
· leaders not engaging sufficiently
· failing to create a strong enough consensus and momentum for change
· under-communicating the vision
· not creating short-term wins
· lack of continuity – changing priorities, moving on to next “flavour of the month”
· misreading progress, declaring victory too soon
· neglecting to embed changes firmly in the corporate culture
Enough of reasons for failure. Quentin Jones and his colleagues at Human Synergistics Australia have identified a meta capability which they found to be critical to success. They call it reflexivity, which they define as “the capacity to become aware of self in relation to others and the organisation”. In practical terms, this means:
· building self-awareness through feedback
· creating a reality check through appreciating others’ viewpoints
· organisation-wide monitoring of progress towards the preferred culture
It sounds like common sense to me but, hey, there’s nothing common about sense as the Darwin Awards demonstrate again and again.