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The secret at the heart of change?

If you’ve looked, you’ve probably noticed that there are thousands of articles, books, blogs even (!) on creating sustainable change in organisations. Lots of them are very well written resources for those with an interest. There’s also a common perception (which would purport to be based in fact) that says 70% of change initiatives in corporations fail. I’ve seen my fair share of change mishaps & failures yet I struggle to find this statistic useful. One for another blog post perhaps…

Anyway, much of the focus of contemporary writing is on how do we manage the implementation of change. It’s a beguiling thought but you can’t just manage change… Manage a project – yes. Sustainable change? That needs leadership. One for another blog post… expect a series!

My point though is that there is a deeper & oft overlooked element to change that is missed in much of the above common discourse. A secret perhaps. It is this:

At the heart of sustainable change there is just one thing that matters.

It’s got to be worth it.

It almost sounds glib doesn’t it? Yet on an individual, team or organisational level it’s that fundamental. Without it you won’t achieve sustainable change.

Sure, we can look at the Executive Leadership or the Programme Office; or plan resourcing or organisational capability; or even blame change resistance. However, fundamentally, if the espoused change matters and you believe it will be worth it over the alternatives, you will invest in it.

If you don’t, then you won’t invest in it. You will either do nothing or meaningfully resist it. That’s not human contrariness by the way. That’s just judgement being asserted by our wonderfully human brain saying that relative to the alternatives, the reward isn’t great enough. It’s not worth me spending my energy on achieving that change.

Now take that fundamental perspective back into a large, complex organisation that wants to change. It’s not a golden bullet but it gives you a focus on what it’s going to take…

What do you need to do to inspire change that people believe is worth their expending energy on?


5 thoughts on “The secret at the heart of change?

  1. Hi David. Great post and I couldn’t agree with you more. I was on a call last night talking about a change project and the man I was talking to said; ‘What’s the why?’

    Only after articulating that well enough & in a compelling way for him, was he willing to invest in it.

    Thanks for a great post.



    Posted by pwillcox | September 4, 2013, 7:52 AM
  2. If there’s a problem identifying “the why”, of course it might simply have been poorly articulated. But going through the expense and pain of a large change programme when there isn’t one.. ..just bonkers. Incidentally, if 70% of projects fail to deliver anticipated benefits, I wonder how much of that is because they are inflated to get the funding approved?


    Posted by Robert Robson (@robertsrobson) | October 14, 2013, 2:40 PM


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