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This chapter is from the book

Change Masters and Change-Agility

Even with better statistics on failure rates for types of change (culture change versus IT system implementation), and types of failure (write-offs versus delays), businesses need to go one step further. They need hard, empirical data on their own change performance. IBM, in Making Change Work,7 found enormous variation in change success between organizations that know what they are doing and those that stumble around.

The IBM survey identified a cohort of “Change Master” companies, who claimed an 80 percent success rate for change (almost double the average in the survey) and much better than “Change Novices” who managed a miserable 8 percent success rate. The next chapters explore some of the facets of these change-agile businesses.

A leader in this is Cisco Systems who, late in the last century, was acquiring one company per quarter. Cisco started to study merger success factors both in the market, generally, and also specifically which factors affected their success and failure. They found that mergers of similar-sized firms fail more often, as do mergers where geographical distance is a factor, as do mergers where cultural dissimilarities are pronounced. Although this sort of analysis is observational (only producing correlation, not cause), it nevertheless is a step toward understanding specific factors related to a specific kind of change, in a specific business.8

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