Queen's University IRC

Building a Foundation for Change: Why So Many Changes Fail and What to Do About It


Rick Maurer

September 1, 1998

A surprisingly high percentage of organizational changes are doomed to fail. According to recent surveys, reengineering efforts have about a 33 percent chance of success, mergers and acquisitions succeed 29 percent of the time, quality improvement efforts achieve their goals half the time, and new software applications hit the mark in less than 20 percent of the cases.

What often goes wrong: Bright people develop a plan that includes a sound business reason for the change. The objectives are clear. The plan includes time lines, bud­gets and staffing requirements. The plan seems on target. And, the plan is good — as far as it goes. But, it’s what is not in the plan that creates problems. What most plans lack are strategies for building sup­port for the change.

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