There are a lot of types of organisational change such as strategy implementation, leadership development and cultural change programmes. As different as they are, they have one thing in common: they mostly fail. According to several studies, e.g. a meta study from Martin E. Smith (2002) covering 49 single studies, organisational change has an overall success rate of only 33%.
As if these numbers where not sobering enough, they get even more depressing when looking at cultural change which has shockingly low success rate of a mere 19%. One cannot help but wondering if doing nothing at all would be more likely to succeed.
Given the fact that most organisational change initiatives are based on cultural change, change management seems to be an almost sure fire recipe to hit the wall. Look at digitalisation, for instance. The idea isn’t new despite its broad media coverage these days. SAP, Germany’s biggest software company, had the idea of seamless, paperless communicating IT systems back in the 1970s. Now more than 40 years later, digitalisation is still an issue because it is less of a technological challenge, but rather a communication problem among the humans responsible for the involved software systems. This has not yet succeeded because it is in fact a cultural change not just a technological change.
Why is Change Management such a disaster?
First of all, change cannot be managed, change can only be lived. Change is like a wave, you either stay on top, or you get wet. That is, change management attempts something impossible. Traditional change management comes with big roadmaps, project plans, vast numbers of analytical tools to name a few. However, since change cannot be planned, this is doomed to fail.
So, change cannot be managed, now what? It’s simple, there is only one thing that initiates change: the aha-experience. I’m sure you’ll agree when you look back in time and consider moments of change. There is most likely not one major change in your life without the aha-experiences that motivated you and paved the way for the realization of new unexpected opportunities.
That leads to the question, where do aha-experiences come from? Again, not from working through high sophisticated roadmaps and well elaborated collections of best practice as change management suggests.
Aha-experiences come from human interaction and there are mainly three ways of doing this: listening, asking questions and giving feedback, which is collectively – the art of coaching. I firmly believe that coaching, when conducted in a professional way, is by far the most promising change management tool, or better called change surfing tool then.
For further reading please click here. http://symbiont-group.de/aha-experiences-change-management/