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Turning change upside down

New analytical approaches provide powerful insights into organizational change.

Overview

Many executives believe organizational change is an inherently messy, chaotic process. Without a doubt, change can derail business. But that’s because leaders have been managing it using faulty assumptions and outdated mental models.

Today’s wealth of data and powerful analytics capabilities have uncovered predictable patterns of how organizational change unfolds. These insights enable executives to navigate around dangerous pitfalls. Leaders and managers can now base their decisions on hard data—namely, the experiences of hundreds of thousands of people who have undergone change programs—telling us exactly what’s worked in the past versus what hasn’t.

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Key Findings

Over the past 15 years, we have studied hundreds of major change initiatives involving nearly a million employees. Analysis of that data has helped to dispel many conventional myths, including the following:


Accenture Myth 1 Myth #1: Too much change, too fast, is destructive.

According to the data, the highest-performing groups actually thrive on change.

Accenture Myth 2 Myth #2: Change causes organizations to go off track.

In fact, 85 percent of groups that run into trouble had major underlying issues before implementing their change program.

Accenture Myth 3 Myth #3: Performance will dip during the early stages of change.

For high-performing groups, business performance rises continuously from the start of a change initiative to its end.

Accenture Myth 4 Myth #4: People need to understand any changes before committing to them.

High-performing groups actually work in reverse, with emotional commitment preceding intellectual understanding. In essence, people are willing to get on the bus even before they know where it’s headed.

Myths of Change

Organizations can become “change smart” by focusing on true performance drivers: leadership, process, vision and passion. They must also foster the ability to handle change — known as “fitness for change” — as part of the corporate culture.

In our Myths of Change podcast series, Accenture Strategy Managing Director Warren Parry debunks a few myths of change and offers suggestions for helping the workforce of the future effectively implement change.

LISTEN TO OUR MYTHS OF CHANGE PODCAST SERIES

Recommendations

The use of sophisticated analytics and new digital approaches can now help organizations achieve two crucial goals:

  • Focus on what truly drives business performance in order to become “change smart.” This includes addressing people issues like leadership and employee emotions, because those are among the critical—yet often neglected—drivers of success.

  • Building change capability into the heart of the organization. Developing this “fitness for change” is now effectively becoming a requirement to be in business, as the workforce of the future will need to manage numerous change initiatives simultaneously.

Fitness for change is now simply a requirement to be in business—not something you pay attention to only when change comes along.

WARREN PARRY

Managing Director, Accenture Strategy

Big Change, Best Path

Accenture Strategy Managing Director Warren Parry has authored a new book titled 'Big Change, Best Path: Successfully Managing Organizational Change with Wisdom, Analytics and Insight' which explores this analytical approach to driving successful organizational change.

In the book, Warren challenges many of the long-held myths of change management, and shows how an entirely new way of managing change is now possible—from empirical benchmarking, to predictive approaches that highlight actions needed to keep a change program on track, to data visualization that shows how each part of an organization is responding.

This book presents a new vision for how organizations can become more agile and resilient in a fast-changing environment.

LEARN MORE


Authors
Accenture-Warren-Parry
Warren Parry
Managing Director 
Accenture Strategy, Talent & Organization 
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Accenture-Randy-Wandmacher
Randy Wandmacher
Managing Director 
Human Resources, Organization Change
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