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The Irrational Side of Change Management

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]I[/su_dropcap]N 1996, JOHN KOTTER published Leading Change. Considered by many to be the seminal work in the field of change management, Kotter’s research revealed that only 30 percent of change programs succeed. Since the book’s release, literally thousands of books and journal articles have been published on the topic, and courses dedicated to managing change are now part of many major MBA programs. Yet in 2008, a McKinsey survey of 3,199 executives around the world found, as Kotter did, that only one transformation in three succeeds. Other studies over the past ten years reveal remarkably similar results. It seems that, despite prolific output, the field of change management hasn’t led to more successful change programs.

It also hasn’t helped that most academics and practitioners now agree on the building blocks for influencing employee attitudes and management behavior. McKinsey’s Emily Lawson and Colin Price provided a holistic perspective in “The psychology of change management,”1 which suggests that four basic conditions are necessary before employees will change their behavior: a) a compelling story, because employees must see the point of the change and agree with it; b) role modeling, because they must also see the CEO and colleagues they admire behaving in the new way; c) reinforcing mechanisms, because systems, processes, and incentives must be in line with the new behavior; and d) capability building, because employees must have the skills required to make the desired changes.

Read more: The irrational side of change management | McKinsey & Company

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