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10 Reasons Change Efforts Fail

Looking to implement a change in your organization? Here are 10 common mistakes businesses make--and how you can avoid them.
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Growth may be optional but change is inevitable. Unfortunately, most efforts to make organizational changes fail, and the reasons are predictable. Since change will happen in your business, keep these 10 reasons handy to boost your chances of a successful change effort--and business growth.

1.    Asking for Behavior X while rewarding Behavior Y.  Make sure you align your systems and work processes with desired behaviors. You get what you reinforce.

2.    Over planning. Analysis paralysis = inaction. So, just get started, learn, tweak, improve, and repeat.

3.    Going for the home run.  Focus on hitting singles--small, quick wins to build momentum for larger, long-term victories.

4.    Uninformed and disengaged team.  Early and ongoing communication helps your team make more intelligent decisions and feel more ownership. 

 5.    The devil is in the details. Don’t keep discussions at a conceptual, strategic level. Once you are clear on your plan, execution is about details.  

6.     Change is good, you go first. Be the leader, go first!

7.    "People are our most valuable resource" is just a saying. Sustained change is always driven by people. Even implementing new software successfully is more about the people who will use is, install it, train it, and support it than it is about the system itself.

8.    Lack of compelling reason to change. Even the best plan must be accompanied with a great story to support it. Your story should build a bridge between today’s challenges and a brighter tomorrow.  

9.    Energy and resources spent on the resistors of change. Support your supporters and let the others make a choice to follow. Don’t throw good money and energy after bad.

10.    Throwing out the baby with the bath water. Changing everything rather than identifying those things that must change to meet new business objectives creates unnecessary havoc. Identify what you should start, stop, and keep, and then plan your changes accordingly.

Find strategies to stick with it in the author's latest book, Stick with It: Mastering the Art of Adherence. Download free book chapters here.

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Apr 9, 2014

LEE COLAN | Columnist

Lee Colan is founder of the L Group, a consulting firm that equips and inspires leaders at every level. He is a leadership adviser, presenter of practical ideas, and a Thinkers 50 nominee for Top Management Thinker.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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