Alumni Services

Three change management mistakes to stop making now

Ahead of his masterclass on leading strategic change, Professor John Amis shares his take on the common pitfalls to avoid.

A man surveys research results

Change happens whether we want it to or not. And in today’s complex and dynamic world, it happens ever more quickly and frequently.

Organisations that can’t keep up will fall by the wayside. Which is why a whole industry devoted to managing organisational transformations has grown up in recent decades, and why strategic change leaders are now hot property. Yet more than two thirds of change programmes fail. More often than not, because of the same mistakes.

Here are three change management mistakes to stop making right now:

1. No coherent, achievable vision

It’s easy to check off things that are wrong within an organisation, carry out a quick SWOT analysis, or come up with a mission statement. Most of us recognise these things are not vision, but they are all too often used in its place.

In fact, because they fail to engage with the fundamental requirements of effective change, such activities can be more damaging in the long run than taking no action at all.

Great change leaders understand the external challenges facing an organisation. They engage people at every level to build a collective sense of understanding of the transformation required.

Only by doing so is it possible create a compelling vision, capable of driving the organisation forward.

2. Poor communication

People dislike change, especially when they feel it’s being imposed against their will. And if there’s a lack of communication, members of the organisation will be all too happy to fill the vacuum with their own speculation and rumours.

Strategic change leadership is about understanding how to use different modes of interaction for different messages at different times.

Communication can mobilise people to engage with change, but if it’s not implemented effectively, it will quickly derail even the most well-planned change process.

3. Declaring victory too quickly

We’ve all got a tendency to publicly pat ourselves on the back when we feel our initiatives have worked. Particularly if it gives us a chance – albeit a measured and professional one – to tell naysayers, ‘I told you so.’

But change is only effective if it can be sustained. It’s important to recognise how to institutionalise change so that what was once considered new and unusual quickly becomes taken for granted.

Declaring victory too soon can cause the good work already done to rapidly unravel.


20 21 November 2017

In our increasingly complex and interconnected world, nothing stands still for long. For leaders, the challenge is to understand how to navigate the latest developments and lead strategic change in response. But the processes which lead to effective transformation are often still ill-understood, and more than 70% of planned organisational change fails. Drawing on real-world experiences and practical exercises grounded in the latest theoretical advances, this two-day programme will equip leaders with the skills required to understand why change is needed and how to deliver it, effectively and sustainably.

Book your place on the Leading Strategic Change masterclass