Thursday, 3 December 2020
Change Management Leadership (or Houston, we’ve had a problem)

Change Management Leadership (or Houston, we’ve had a problem)

Here is a sobering statistic. 60% to 70% of all changes management projects in organisations fail. This is according to research by Mckinsey and Company and the failure rate has been consistent since the 1970s till now. Just pause and let it sink in. 60% to 70% failure…….

Despite reading Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr Spencer Johnson and implementing John Kotter’s 8 Steps Change Management Model, organisational transformational change projects still fail leaving behind wasted resources, lost opportunities and a whole lot of employee cynicism. 

Let’s look at 3 major reasons why your next change effort may fail.

1.      Lack of leadership accountability

2.      Lack of change management culture

3.      Lack of practice and development of change management skillsets

One, in all major change programmes, there’s always the danger that change management gets outsourced or delegated; leaders and managers distance themselves from the challenge of implementing the priorities they once championed. That can cause change initiatives to fail. Change leadership has to start and finish with the Senior Leadership Team from the Chairperson, Board and CEO.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, states that “good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Two, embedded within an organisation’s culture exists incorrect views held about change. Managers see change as risky, disruptive and something to be feared. This flows through to employees and morale is shaken. The truth is that change management is most successful when, as a result of external factors (for example, innovation from competitors, new legislation) there’s a shared sense of urgency in the organisation to deliver tangible change.

Three, it is not due to a lack of knowledge as there exists countless books, videos, seminars and resources on change management but the failure by the organisation’s leaders and managers in the practice and application of that knowledge.  Would you place your trust in a pilot who has 1,000 flying hours or 25,000 hours?  Change Managers must be allowed to put into practice their accumulated knowledge base, develop change management skillsets and learn from their mistakes.

Below are case studies of successful change management for you to be inspired by.


In 2004, Shell was facing an oil reserves crisis and its share price was threatened.  The new group Chairperson, Jeroen van der Veer, believed that in order to survive, the corporation had to transform its structure and processes. A series of global, standardised processes were identified. These, if introduced, would impact more than 80 Shell operating units.

Lesson Learnt: For a change programme of this scale to be successful, everyone had to adhere to the new systems and processes. The Leadership Team and Change Champions both modelled and drove the new behaviours needed for the change to succeed. They briefed the people who would be impacted by the change; risks and potential problem areas were discussed and mitigated – before any real change was even delivered.

British Airways

In 1981, British Airways appointed Lord John King. The airline was operating very inefficiently and was wasting valuable resources. Lord King restructured the entire organization by reducing its workforce and turned it into one of the world’s respected and profitable airline in recent times.

Lessons Learnt: Before the Chairperson began announcing staff layoffs, Lord John King explained his reasons for the restructuring to the entire company to prepare them for the upcoming change. As a result, there were no employee backlash and negative press around all the layoffs because he was transparent and communicated honestly and frequently to manage the change process.


Marissa Mayer led the development of Google's most successful products for more than 10 years and was appointed CEO of Yahoo in 2012, at the age of 37.  Yahoo was in shambles at that point in time.  Under her leadership, stocks rose and quarterly earnings improved. More importantly, employees who had previously left Yahoo were coming back and employee belief in the company improved.

Lessons Learnt:  It was crucial to manage and engage employee talent within Yahoo and getting them motivated about working at Yahoo.  In 2013, there were at least 560           employee-focused initiatives that were implemented to bolster morale. Employees were happy and felt valued.

“To fear change is to fear being challenged. To fear being challenged is to fear growth and new possibilities.” Ty Howard

Austmine Member, Scope Training is an award winning private registered training organisation in Western Australia providing accredited and non-accredited training solutions in project management, health & safety, training & assessment and leadership & management to corporate, not-for-profit and public sector clients with a dedication to delivering quality training outcomes. In 2015, Scope won the WA Small Training Provider of the Year Award and went on to represent the State as a National Finalist in the Australian Training Awards. Call us on (08) 9321 6307 to discuss your training needs.

«December 2020»
30/11/2020 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
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Perth End of Year Networking Event

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