Reasons why so many changes fail #6 Assume Understanding Equals Support

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Reasons why so many changes fail

#6 Assume Understanding Equals Support

Leaders assume that understanding equals support and commitment. It is common to introduce change by making a PowerPoint presentation to a large group. Leaders may schedule time for Q&A, but the questions they get from their audiences tend to be very polite. After all, who wants to tell the boss they don’t think this is a good idea? People learn to limit their comments to questions about time lines and budgets. They know those are safe questions. Any reservations or fears go underground and only get spoken about in hallways and carpools.

Since this leader received so many questions, he or she may believe that people are interested and ready to work to make this change a success. But the real issues that can kill or damage this project never get on the leader’s screen.

I conducted a study a few years ago and was surprised to learn that the failure to make a compelling case for change was the biggest reason why major new initiatives failed or went off track.

Making a compelling case for change seems to be the biggest thing you can do to build support and commitment for a new initiative, and yet, it is the most overlooked task in the life of most changes.

(This is adapted from my forthcoming book, Beyond the Wall of Resistance: Why 70% of Changes Still Fail – and What To Do About It. You can pre-order the book at