The most important thing about successful change programs is whether they achieve their objectives and continue to do so into the future. This sustainability is achieved by one thing: cultural and behavioural change in the organisation.
Behaviour change is the changes in working and attitude that are triggered by the individual in the way they do their job. Cultural change is how the sum of all those individual behavioural changes, change the way the business operates.
Behavioural and cultural change are facilitated through the people in the business WANTING to make the change because they see what is in it for them and are assisted into working the new way. Once they do that and see the benefits that accrue to them, they will tell you that they never want to go back to the old way of working. This phenomenon has been seen repeatedly in successful long term change programs and it never works by simply having senior executives impose it top down.
Only by embedding the behavioural and cultural change in the working operations of the business will you ever persuade people to not go back to their previously comfortable ways of working, simply because they no longer see it as “the good old days”. They like their new world.
To an extent, changes in technology can be forced on users. However, you should never underestimate the ability of staff to undermine change if they genuinely do not believe it is in their best interest or those of their company.
A 2013 Towers Watson study reinforced what other studies have shown – that the majority of organizations’ change efforts fail. This is due to a number of factors, including a lack of leadership, the difficulty of sustaining momentum, and ineffective or absent mechanisms to support the change. Many change efforts are started before the necessary planning and analysis takes place. For example, there’s often no assessment of the organization’s capacity to absorb the change, or understanding of the capability of impacted stakeholders to adopt the change. Instead, there are multiple change programs occurring at the same time, often impacting the same group of people. This creates confusion, particularly when the implementation efforts are disconnected from each other.