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Why change projects fail

leaddogSomething like 70% of big change projects within our organisations are said to fail. As social business is nothing if not a widespread change project, this is likely to be a major hurdle to overcome if you're to achieve the results you hope for.

Below is an interesting interview with Greg Shea and Cassie Solomon, authors of Leading Successful Change. Particularly interesting is their theory of the lead dog.

The lead dog myth suggests that we too often attribute failed projects to either a failure of leadership or a failure of the followers. Instead, they suggest that we are better at adapting to an already changed environment than being coaxed into change. In other words, it is a better idea to focus on providing just the right environment to encourage the new behaviours you wish to see, and then relying on your people to adapt to that environment.

"Human beings do much better at adapting to environments than they do being told to change in a way that may or may not make sense with how the world around them -- their work space, their strategic business unit, their service line -- indicates that they should act. You tell them one thing, and the world around them tells them another thing. People are pretty intelligent. They will say, "You will come and go, but the world that is immediately around me -- my reward system, measurement system -- is telling me to do something else."

It represents an interesting shift from the view that change is best achieved when the participants in the change have bought into what it is that's being asked of them. Check out the video below. It's an interesting 20 minutes or so.


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