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Why do Change Efforts often Fail?

Change is inevitable, be it in the life of an individual or the life of an organization. Since it is individuals who make up an organization, often, organizational behaviour tend to reflect that of the individuals that form the organization. It is a proven fact from history that a system tends to resist change; religion, society, families, individuals; organizations are no different. However, an organization that does not change with time is doomed for failure. This article examines the reasons why change efforts often fail.

Lack of ‘buy-in’ of practitioners
A major cause for failure is the non acceptance of change by the employees. While introducing a change the advocates fails to consider the human aspects which are the ones that decide the success or failure of the change.

The advocates of the change should institute a good medium of communication, so that the philosophy of change gets across to the receivers. Organizations in which candor is valued and practiced, change is easier to bring about. The function that brings in the change should systematically work with the practitioners to win their buy-in. Lack of proper knowledge of its impact is one of the major reasons for the refusal to accept the changes into their working system.

Incorrect implementation
A change is likely to bring about insecurity and discomfort in an organization. For instance, when the software houses in India started to implement Six Sigma methodologies, there was an intense resistance to the ideas. The quality functions of organizations conducted workshops to educate the practitioners on the benefits. In organizations where the importance of adhering to a quality system was not well articulated, have seen the practitioners not following the processes in spirit. One of the key aspects is to provide training to the employees to assist them to cope with the changes.

Not assessing the impacts
A few companies adopt the changes without any analysis on the impact it will have on the organization. They also fail to scrutinize its movements once installed in the system. Changes on introducing might require further modifications according to the type of business involved and its overall goals. Failure to make the necessary modifications on the basis of the work involved leads to the failure of the system. This has been one of the reasons for the downfall of Six Sigma in many companies. An interesting study done by Fortune magazine revealed that "of 58 large companies that have announced Six Sigma programs, 91 percent have trailed the S&P 500 since". Why was it that Motorola and GE succeeded in doing that others couldn’t? The answer possibly could be in implementation.

Studies point out that a huge percentage of the changes incorporated by the companies have failed. Transition will fail unless the company gets the support and commitment of its employees. The fears of the employees must be removed and they must be encouraged to contribute newer ideas. Change is an ongoing process which requires constant modifications throughout its life for its effective implementation.

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