10 Reasons Change Succeeds or Fails: Appropriate Skills and Resources

See all of the 10 Reasons Change Succeeds or Fails posts here. And download the full whitepaper here

We have found that there are ten factors that determine the success or failure of any organizational change.  In this series, we will examine each of these factors.  Having already explored starting with a winning strategy, creating awareness through a compelling case for change and specific change criteria, building desire through a clear performance focus, and balancing decision-driven and behavior-dependent change, we will now turn to having the appropriate organizational resources to make the change.  Here we will start with establishing the appropriate skills and resources.

Organizations that are most effective at driving change have a very clear and realistic understanding of the skills and resources required to make the change.  While this seems intuitive, what do these organizations do differently than most?

First, their resource allocation process is closely aligned with their change initiative.  Resource allocation is one of the most crucial signals to your organization about what is important.  Saying that a change initiative is important – while devoting your resources elsewhere – will quickly cause the initiative (and its leaders) to lose credibility.

Second, these organizations have a clear understanding of the new skills and capabilities that the change demands.  They thoughtfully consider where they have skill gaps – and the magnitude of those gaps.  They understand that the organization wins when its people are playing to their strengths, so they put people in a position where they can succeed – not in a situation where they are not adequately prepared and the risk of failure is high.  As part of this, these organizations also understand differing types of leadership that may be required as part of the desired organizational change.

Third, these organizations have rigorous talent development and deployment programs.  Where skill gaps may be small, they invest in training and development for their staff.  Where gaps may be larger, they search broadly within their organizations for talent to be redeployed to critical change initiatives.  And when they feel they simply lack skills and capabilities, they actively recruit new talent and work hard to integrate those individuals into their organization.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are organizations that lack a clear understanding of the appropriate skills and resources needed as well as the commitment to obtaining them.  They routinely launch efforts or projects that are under-resourced.  They expect staff to “fit in” the change effort on top of their “regular duties.”  These organizations either fail to recognize the new skills required or won’t make the effort to attract appropriate talent.

Where is your organization on this spectrum?  If you don’t feel that you have a clear commitment to the appropriate skills and resources, spending additional time to refine your requirements will be a worthwhile investment before attempting to make other changes. Specifically:

  • Are you clear about what resources are required for the change vs. those that are simply nice to have?
  • Can you articulate the skills and capabilities required? Have you assessed your current staff to determine the magnitude of the gap?
  • Have you considered how best to address the skills and capabilities gap? Is there talent elsewhere within the organization that could be assigned to this initiative?  Do you have time to build skills with existing personnel – or will you need to infuse the team with new talent?
  • How will you support and retain new talent that may be threatening to the existing culture?