Friday, May 29, 2009


Recently two studies from IBM as well as from McKinsey clearly highlight the urgent need to focus on the soft aspects of change, rather than on the hard aspects. This is a must to succeed in today’s ever faster changing environments.


In 2008, a McKinsey survey of 3,199 executives around the world found that only one transformation in three succeeds. Other studies over the past ten years reveal remarkably similar results. It seems that, despite prolific output, the field of change management hasn’t led to more successful change programs.


IBM found that, on average, 41 percent of projects were considered successful in meeting project objectives within planned time, budget and quality constraints, compared to the remaining 59 percent of projects which missed at least one objective or failed entirely.


Although the results from the IBM study are ‘better’, it is clear that the practice of change management needs to improve substantially.


What needs to be done to improve this situation?


McKinsey shares the following nine insights with us.

  1. What motivates you doesn’t motivate most of your employees.
  2. You’re better off letting them write their own story.
  3. It takes a story with both + and – to create real energy.
  4. Leaders believe mistakenly that they already “are the change.”
  5. Influence leaders” aren’t a panacea for making change happen.
  6. Money is the most expensive way to motivate people.
  7. The process and the outcome have got to be fair.
  8. Employees are what they think, feel, and believe in.
  9. Good intentions aren’t enough.


IBM has  four common factors  address their greatest project challenges. When used in combination, these factors provided a synergistic benefit that was even greater than the sum of their individual impacts, resulting in higher rates of project success:


Real Insights, Real Actions

Strive for a full, realistic awareness and understanding of the upcoming challenges and complexities, then follow with actions to address them.

Solid Methods, Solid Benefits

Use a systematic approach to change that is focused on outcomes and closely aligned with formal project management methodology.

Better Skills, Better Change

Leverage resources appropriately to demonstrate top management sponsorship, assign dedicated change managers and empower employees to enact change.

Right Investment, Right Impact

Allocate the right amount for change management by understanding which types of investments can offer the best returns, in terms of greater project success.


It turns out the “soft stuff” is the hardest to get right.

Successful Change Managers have realized that behavioral and cultural change are crucial to project success and are considerably tougher to address than the so-called “hard” factors, such as structure, performance measures and incentives.



Both studies highlight the need to focus on individuals and on what they believe and think. And collectively this is the culture (‘the way things get done over here’), which has a huge impact on the success of any changes or innovations.


So, the individual change process is an integral part of the total change management approach.


Change is personal or it never happens.


 Rule 1: It is a prerequisite that everyone (leaders, managers, employees) changes in order to grow.

Rule 2: People don’t change when we tell them they should. They change when they tell themselves they must.



Key questions for individual change:


  • Why is change necessary?
  • What is the new goal (organization, department, personal)?
  • What is in it for me (benefits, rewards, recognition)?
  • What does it mean for me?
  • What do I have to do differently?
  • What is expected from me?
  • What is my new metric?
  • How can I contribute (share ideas, give feedback, be engaged)?
  • Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my ‘new’ work right?
  • Where is support available for me to cope with ongoing change?
  • What excites me in my work?



Hopefully the focus on the soft aspects of change will now get the ProPer attention!




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