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What Are The Conditions For Successful Change?

“ Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” – John Kenneth Galbraith

If there’s one thing all of us can count on, it’s that change will occur with or without our consent. As business leaders, we know that managing change carries risk and the cost of change can sometimes be large and painful, both personally and professionally.

When we take on new clients, their major concerns always contain questions such as these.

  • How will we implement the improvements identified?
  • Can we sustain momentum?
  • How quickly can we see results?

The answer to all three of these questions lies in the organization’s ability to implement change.

So how should we define successful change?

Change is simple but not easy. It only has three basic elements.

“Change is the transition from a current reality to a different reality”.

The business leader’s challenge is to move the group from the current way to different way over time. Change success can be judged by the time spent to complete the change versus the cost of disruption caused by the change.

The challenge for the change manager is that the transition phase creates an uncomfortable state of confusion and disruption for those affected. Generally speaking, employees’ natural instincts are to fear change. By giving up the current way without fully adapting to the future, people feel a personal loss of control over their lives., causing them to want to hold onto the current way longer. And altering people’s behavior and comfort levels during transition carries costs in terms of employee stress, productivity declines and loss of trust.

What are the consequences of failed change?

The cost of failed change is the loss of employee engagement, trust, productivity and commitment, resulting in work not getting done. This cost shows up in financial statements through lost sales, increased expenses, and poor asset management.  It also shows up in the customer experience because business systems and processes no longer work as they once did and employees express their frustration and dissatisfaction to anyone who will listen.

Each individual processes change differently. It always comes down to “what does this mean to me” for each person and the emotional capacity required to embrace a major change is huge. While Intellectual commitment to change often comes easy, emotional commitment has proven to be much more difficult to get and sustain.

If the rate of change exceeds the individual’s capability to absorb it, he or she runs the risk of becoming temporarily dysfunctional.

What are the conditions for successful change?

Successful change requires a level of dissatisfaction with the current way that exceeds the fear of the future or, alternatively, when the current option is eliminated and the future is the only new option.

Change is more likely to occur when,

  • The need to change is compelling,
  • The group has a clear vision of where it is going,
  • The group knows what to do, and
  • It has the capability to do it.

The leader’s challenge is to increase employee engagement during major change efforts to improve the rate of success. Heavy group interaction helps to surface employees fears and concerns and creates an environment conducive to learning and trust.


Interested in leaning more?

Change Management Plan Template Cover_Page_1

The Major Change Management Plan Template

Ready to be a change agent? Our change management template will help you implement a winning strategy.

Download the change management template