“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
~ William Pollard
Why are some organizations more capable of change than others? Are organizations that are better at changing also more successful with their change projects?
A study among 134 German companies demonstrated that prior success with change initiatives positively influenced the performance of change projects.[i] In other words, success breeds success. Furthermore, companies with a poor track record with change initiatives created structures and cultures that resulted in even more resistance to change. Therefore, no matter the type of change – anticipatory, responsive or crisis – prior success or failure with change initiatives will have an effect on future change projects.[ii]
To build capacity for change, four keys emerge:
- Carefully select change initiatives small enough to ensure success, yet large enough to engage multiple organizational stakeholders
- Employ project management tools to plan and monitor activities (i.e. project charter, GANTT charts, etc.)
- Celebrate and communicate success internally and externally to embed the stories in the culture
- Create synergy by building future change initiatives on a history of small successes
[i] Heckmann, N., Steger, T., & Dowling, M. (2016). Organizational capacity for change, change experience, and change project performance. Journal of Business Research, 69, 777–784. https://doi.org/10.0.3.248/j.jbusres.2015.07.012
[ii] Black, J. S., & Gregersen, H. B. (2014). It starts with one: Changing individuals changes organizations (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.