Undercurrents of Change: Research Shows That Changes Often Fail Due to Deeper Issues in an Organization

By Castellano, Stephanie | Talent Development, January 2016 | Go to article overview

Undercurrents of Change: Research Shows That Changes Often Fail Due to Deeper Issues in an Organization


Castellano, Stephanie, Talent Development


Organizational change is difficult, messy, and often comes with negative side effects. At least, that's what we've come to think and expect. But new data from Accenture show that many of our assumptions about change and change management are dead wrong.

Accenture's research, compiled in the book Big Change, Best Path, is based on the largest data set of change management ever compiled, including more than 150 organizations, one-quarter of which are Fortune Global 500 companies, and encompassing survey responses from 850,000 individual employees. It debunked several myths about change.

One of the biggest misconceptions about change is that it can derail an organization. Accenture found that 85 percent of organizations that had problems implementing a major change did so because of underlying issues that already existed, such as poor leadership or "silo" mentalities that prevented employees from collaborating. "Simply put, change does not cause organizational dysfunction," writes Warren Parry, managing director of strategy, talent, and organization at Accenture. "It merely exposes it."

Business leaders also tend to expect performance to dip during the early stages of change. …

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