It’s hard to transform a business, because it means changing the way people think and act. We believe the change management industry doesn’t pay enough attention to this, which is why successful transformations are rare. History shows that when organizations focus on changing minds and behaviors, change programs succeed.
For successful business transformation, start with people
How often have you heard people say “change is the only thing that’s constant round here”? Although a huge change management industry has grown up around the thirst for revolution in business, it’s rare that corporate transformations succeed.
There are two reasons for this. First, organizations get stuck in their ways, especially when they are doing well. The business graveyard is full of companies that failed to spot the next big thing. Second, people find it hard to change. Unless leaders can engage with employees’ beliefs and emotions so they buy in to the new plans, change programs will always stall.
We know that people-centered transformation works. Hay Group pioneered it in the 1990s with IBM, whose turnaround is considered one of the greatest in corporate history. It means changing people’s minds, so they are all aligned around the new strategy. And it means changing behaviors – especially those of leaders – so they motivate people to work in new ways. Finally, it means treating change as a journey rather than a rigid, one-off project. This way, businesses can be flexible enough to navigate the inevitable shocks that will threaten to derail the process.
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