Change Initiatives


How effective are your change initiatives?  Studies in 1995 (John Kotter) and 2008 (McKinsey & Company) both determined that 70% of change programs failed.  That failure rate might be even higher if you rigorously calculated the financial and human impact of the effort, both direct costs and lost opportunity costs.  The bottom line is that a very significant opportunity exists to more effectively execute change initiatives.

Ed Henkler Business Coaching and Consulting Change-Initiatives

The Badlands are a wonderful metaphor for major change initiatives. The path forward can seem (and be) very challenging. It is important to maintain a positive attitude, focus on intermediate objectives, and never lose sight of the ultimate goal.

The best way to implement successful change in any organization is to ensure stakeholder engagement through copious communication – which celebrates the small wins, indirect leader buy in, and effective implementation/execution.  We consider stakeholders as any group that will be affected by the change initiative, which minimally includes employees, customers, and supply chain.

To fundamentally change the likelihood of success with major change programs, it is helpful to start with lessons learned from the company’s most recent effort.  We use open-ended questions for two reasons.  They encourage descriptive answers which will open additional avenues of inquiry.  They also begin a conversation, which must continue throughout the initiative to gradually build trust.

In our experience, major change initiative shortfalls can often be traced to one or more of the following gaps, all linked to stakeholders:

  • Incomplete stakeholder engagement
  • Inadequate communications
  • Ineffective implementation

What they’re saying:

– I was one of the senior scientists and Ed led the science integration effort for a major acquisition. Our company had limited expertise…. Biopharma consultant  Read more