Managing change effectively is a source of competitive advantage, yet few organizations do it well.
In a Bain survey, 70 percent of companies said they failed to realize the expected results from recent change initiatives. That rate hasn't changed from similar surveys we conducted in the 1980s and 1990s. And the environment for change is only getting more complex.
A study of 184 global companies and decades of experience with our clients has helped us create a differentiated point of view of what truly drives results.
Change is predictable
Typical change management suggests that much about change is irrational and hard to predict. In fact, delivery risks are highly predictable, measurable and manageable. Most change management programs stall because organizations fail to consider risks of change delivery and implementation. A simple risk assessment at the outset can identify specific risks early, and providing a simple, practical set of actions that dramatically improve the odds of success.
Go beyond installation
Many organizations install a change successfully, but then stumble when they try to realize the anticipated benefits. Installation is relatively easy–it's like designing a new playbook in the sports world. To realize the benefits of the new book, the players have to start using the new plays. That's the hard part: It requires changing the way people behave. Executives who fail to identify and manage the few critical behaviors that need to change will face an uphill battle. The biggest difference between successful and unsuccessful change efforts is breaking past installation and onto realization.
Build a Sponsorship Spine
For any transformational change to succeed, people have to think and work differently. And to get these new behaviors to stick, they need to be reinforced and celebrated by a connected group of sponsors throughout the organization, the Sponsorship Spine. The direct line boss has the greatest influence over individual behaviors. That is why it's essential to build a Sponsorship Spine from the bottom up. An unbroken chain from the frontline to the C-suite will ensure that people at every level understand their roles and are ready to engage. Sponsorship is a cascading process and a "black hole" anywhere along the line will stop the change process below it. Program managers and senior leaders must continually monitor the health of the Sponsorship Spine, because it is essential to achieving results. If sponsors prove ineffective, they should be coached or, if necessary, replaced.
Realizing results is not easy. It takes time, focus, determination and planning for a future where, even with the best of intentions, things are likely to veer off course. Bain is a partner with the experience to help navigate these tricky waters and help your organization deliver lasting results.