PARK CITY, Utah, Jan. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Albert Einstein once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results." He might as well have been talking about the way executives try to shepherd change within their corporations. Deb Kirby, Ph.D., notes that such initiatives have a shocking failure rate of between 50% and 75% over the past 40 years. She says, "Forty years is an absurd amount of time to fail over and over again, particularly when you consider the money, time and toll such processes take on employees!"
Despite the high hopes in which these initiatives are launched, they are often doomed from the start, according to Dr. Kirby, an organizational change coach, trainer and speaker. Through observation and research, she identified four reasons why organizational change fails, compiling them in a free eBook that can be accessed here.
More importantly, from this analysis of failure, she proposes a different way to engage individuals, groups, and the organizational collective to spark sustainable transformational change.
Here, briefly outlined, are the four reasons Dr. Kirby uncovered.
Historical Influences on Organizing. One historical influence that dates to the 1800s and gained new popularity in the 1980s was treating employees like machine parts. Attention is directed to replacing or fixing elements of the organizational system usually with little consideration for the interrelationship of all the parts of the whole. This manifests itself through the need for predictability and certainty and a devaluing of employees.
Not Understanding Workplace Culture. Culture is the collective consciousness of an organization. Trying to change one facet can throw the whole balance out of whack. Unfortunately, most approaches to understanding culture are based on outside consultants diagnosing and prescribing solutions. What gets sacrificed are the complex, intangible qualities and rich lived experiences of organizational members—the real influences guiding an organization.
Not Seeing the Situation Clearly. Relying on unsuitable metaphors such as "business is war" or "business is a machine" or a lack of agreement on what metaphors are actually in play leads to conflicts over what actions to take and other frustrations. Also, trying to graft a new metaphor onto the existing culture can lead to failure.
Change Limited to an Event. Even the best intentions to change existing organizational conditions end up treating change as an event through mandates, training programs, and new policies, often with a misguided beginning and end. No organizational change can occur unless the individuals involved change first and, stunningly, this is rarely how training or change initiatives evolve. The assumption is that employees will change in response to what they are being told. This does not reflect reality.
About Deb Kirby
Deb Kirby, Ph.D., is an organizational coach, trainer, and speaker who concentrates on corporate culture change and leadership excellence. She focuses on research related to understanding the myriad obstacles to successful, sustainable organizational change and solutions that spark transformation. She received her Ph.D. in transformative studies from California Institute of Integral Studies, a master's degree in wisdom studies from Wisdom University and a master's degree in speech communications and organizational development from Illinois State University.