By Jacqueline Shakespeare

We’re living in a ‘new world’ where disruption is at every turn. Change and continuous improvement needs to be at the heart of an organisation – navigating this ever-evolving world is often a daunting and challenging task. 

According to a Global CEO study by IBM, the need to lead change is ever-growing, but the ability to successfully manage it is decreasing. Businesses are unprepared for the level of impact created by change, meaning in more cases than not, the programmes fail to deliver the intended benefits.

Through my own experience, together with the S&S Partners and thought-leaders delivering some of the business world’s biggest transformations, I have uncovered the seven mistakes often made by organisations when implementing change.

Mistake 1 – They try and run before they can walk

People assume that the sooner they start a piece of work, the sooner it will be delivered, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The stronger the foundations a business puts in place before change begins, the better position it is in to navigate the journey, tackle issues along the way and deliver a successful outcome.

Mistake 2 – They forget that real change needs the whole team

The engagement of employees plays a critical role in defining the success or failure of a change initiative. Too often, we assume that merely ‘telling’ people is enough, but this will never deliver truly sustainable change. Instead, leaders must step forward and invest time and effort in engaging people in the vision and the journey ahead. 

Mistake 3 – They forget about the customer

Some organisations keep the customer out of sight and out of mind, believing they know better. The customer is then ‘surprised’ when they start to see the impact of the change, creating mistrust and dissatisfaction. By opening a two-way dialogue with the customer, it closes the loop between what the change promises and the value it delivers.

Mistake 4 – They think that one size fits all

With transformational change, organisations often try and ‘control’ the change, they create tight governance frameworks for it to operate within, and then expect the change to thrive, it doesn’t. Complex change isn’t predictable, we cannot control it, we need to experiment and learn within a flexible governance framework in order for the change to be successful.

Mistake 5 – They forget to prioritise ruthlessly

The ability to prioritise ruthlessly is fundamental. To maximise the flow of valuable work, you need to manage the amount of work in progress. When we have too many projects running in parallel, work flows more slowly and sometimes even grinds to a halt. Employees become frustrated along with sponsors.

Mistake 6 – They work in silos

In a large change initiative, different areas within an organisation need to unite in their work and approach and focus on the delivery of the outcome rather than their own personal gain. When this silo mentality is broken down and teams work to deliver a shared outcome for the organisation, they are far more likely to deliver successful change.

Mistake 7 – They focus on delivering value at the end of the change

When an organisation locks down a large scope with no plan to deliver value regularly throughout the change, it is risking the ability to deliver true value to the organisation. If on the other hand, it delivers value regularly, it will increase benefits to the business, reduce risk and make sure the change continues to be relevant.

When organisations are truly ready for change, the experience is a motivating and energising one with real value delivered throughout. Leaders inspire, customers are loyal and change is seen as a journey rather than an end point, full of possibility, growth and learning for both the individual and the organisation.

You can read the full Seven Mistakes When Delivering Change report here, which includes advice and tips on how to avoid the pitfalls of delivering change. 

Our years of experience in S&S of delivering change and transformation across many different industries, consistently shows that the successful outcome of change initiatives is driven by how strongly it is set up against six individual ChangeReady components, the S&S ChangeReady6. 

Take the S&S ChangeReady test to find out whether you’re ChangeReady.

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