Change Management is Dead. Part 1 of a 5 Part Series

August, 2014

For the next 5 weeks we’ll be exploring the Top 10 reasons to let go of change management.

Why? Because change management is dead.

It’s not resting.  It’s not stunned.  And it’s not gravely wounded.  It is deceased.

And you’ve been suspecting that’s the case, but hey, there is a lot invested in this thing; which makes it hard to let go.  But it is time to Let Go of Change Management and embrace something that powerfully shifts your company's success.

The time has come for Business Transformation - a completely different model that has produced outcomes which were not possible inside the formula of change management.

For the next 5 weeks we’ll share some of the unmistakable truths about change management that have caused you more than a little pain and frustration. In other words we will explore some things you already know and have lived regarding the failure of change management. This content comes from our over-fifteen years of experience in change implementation and is drawn from some of our past blogs, workshops and keynotes.  

First two reasons to Let Go...

Why Let Go of Change Management - Top 10 - #1:  Change Management Equals No Change

Here’s the traditional change management Formula:

  1. Pick a new future.
  2. Figure out where you are now
  3. Gap Analysis
  4. Take action to close the gap.
  5. Pray for the best...knowing there is a better than 2 in 3 chance that you fail.

Oh, there’s actually a 6th which is not mentioned in literature reviews or MBA programs…

6. Blame the plan, the people, the consultant, the lack of resources, or the leadership when the change fails.

For an approach that makes logical sense, the only problem is that it doesn’t actually do what we want it to do!

Then why do organizations, big and small, old and new, corporate and government and not-for-profit, continue to go to a bankrupt approach?

Because, as Albert Einstein so eloquently says, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

Put another way, at the organizational level, we cannot solve our problems with the same culture we used when we created them.” And it is that exact same culture which is about to implement the plan.

You and your organization are good at steps 1 through 3... OK, some of us aren’t that good at Step 1... but we are all woefully bad at Step 4 and we THINK we’re great at it.  But your strategy for “taking action to close the gap” ends up being the same tired old set of actions (strategies) that your organization didn’t implement the last time you committed to a new vision.

Why?  Because “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”.  And your current culture is going to be the one that implements your strategy.  Which is why Change Management without a Culture Shift is doomed to failure, save the smallest and easiest of changes.

Why Let Go of Change Management - Top - 10 #2:  70% of change initiatives fail.  Seven.  Zero.  Who sticks with a 70% fail rate?!?

“If you sit in on a poker game and don’t see a sucker, get up. You’re the sucker.”

Change management is designed to deal with the symptoms of culture, not the culture itself.  And your culture is the one behind the wheel of your shiny new change management strategy:  the processes, the structures, the communication, the actions, and the results.  Your culture is doing all the talking.  It’s doing all the listening.  It’s sitting in every chair in your pristine new org chart.

A new org chart with new titles doesn’t produce new thinking.  It usually produces a temporary disruption to business as usual, some confusion, and something that will one day be considered “a flavor of the month”. Whether I now sit to the left of you or the right of you has, on its own, rarely made any significant impact on the paradigm that got our organization in this pickle in the first place.

If people want to affect dramatic change to the morale or culture of their company, something entirely different is needed. And that thing is a transformative process that is designed to address the culture of a company.

And what else is the culture of a company but the way common and accepted way that a particular group of people think, speak, listen and act. In other words a culture is “how we do things around here”.

Which is why your change management outcomes are going to look an awful lot like the outcomes you had before you even started.

Which equals a failure to deliver the future you so desire.

By Vik Maraj and Kevin Gangel - Co-founders of Unstoppable Conversations


Watch for Part 2 in this series next week.  Get notice of these and other paradigm-shifting insights, Join Unstoppable Conversations on Facebook or Twitter to keep in the know for your business' future and culture transformation.

Unstoppable Conversations and the team of Vik Maraj and Kevin Gangel, are a unique consulting firm which produces radical shifts in the capacity of an organization’s leaders to realize extra-ordinary results within a surprisingly short time. Their work demystifies the world of change and simplifies everything to ONE key driver. Leaders discover that their organization’s culture shapes and limits all of their well laid plans and they discover how to practically address their culture with real-time actions that produce immediately obvious benefits.

About the author 

Vik Maraj

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