Change initiatives cost UK plc £1.7 billion a year

Do you want to save money wasted on change initiatives? Most change initiatives/ projects/programmes fail! A study by IBM claimed that only 41% of programmes were successful (to time, quality & budget), that 44% missed at least one objective and 15% failed completely. Many of us have bitter experience of failed change initiatives. My recollection of change initiatives I have seen leads me to think the IBM study has it about right. Rarely do change initiatives get declared as failures, but are portrayed as “partial successes.” Another study I read concluded that failed change initiatives cost the UK about £1.7 billion a year.


What is more troubling is that the situation seems to be getting worse as the volume of change increases. The IBM study identified that the percentage of CEOs expecting substantial change rose from 65% in 2006 to 83% in 2008, up by 18%. The same CEOs reporting that their organisations had successfully managed change rose just 4% from 57% in 2006 to 61% in 2008. When you think about this, the difference between expecting change and feeling able to manage it rose significantly. In 2006, we were looking at the difference between 65% and 57% – that is 8%. In 2008, the respective numbers were 83% and 61%, a “change gap” of 22 – almost 3 times the “change gap” of 2006.

However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The study also identified that the top 20% of organisations are successful 80% of the time. Given that the bottom 20% only manage to achieve their change objectives 8% of the time, how do you get into the top 20% and avoid being in the bottom 20%? After all, there is a big difference – if you can be in the top 20%, you are likely to be ten times more successful that the poor performers in the bottom category!

Subsequent posts on this topic will cover why change initiatives fail (so you don’t repeat the same mistakes) and why they succeed (so you can do the right things). Sign up to follow this blog and get a much greater chance of being in the top 20% and saving money on failed changes.