Why is Transformational Change so Difficult?

Marketing and Networking University, 25 October 2017

All the available evidence indicates that organisations are not good at delivering transformational change. Whether the transformation involves merging with another company, replatforming core IT systems or changing culture to become more customer-centric, the success rate – in terms of achieving the targets set at the outset – is often said to be only about 5%. Perhaps more worryingly there is no evidence to suggest that the success rate is improving. The question is why, and what can be done about it?

While we don’t claim to have the definitive answer, we have found that the chances of success are significantly increased if four critical conditions for success are in place. These are firstly, understanding the real purpose of transformational change. Secondly, understanding what’s anchoring an organisation to its current trajectory. Thirdly, ‘pulling’ rather than ‘pushing’ the transformation. And fourthly, knowing how to measure success. Each of these critical conditions is discussed below. While we class these four as critical, we also recognise that other conditions need to be in place to be successful.

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