Change is not only constant – it is accelerating. Leaders increasingly understand the importance of anticipating change and investing in organizational change management process or efforts. As the pace of change quickens, however, the gap between “where we are” and “where we need to be” widens.
Research paints a picture of organizations continuing to fall prey to the increasing rate of change:
- Change project failure rates are found to be in the 60-70% range.
- IBM studies find 41% of change projects meet objectives on time and within budget, and only 40% of business professionals believe they have the skills needed to manage change successfully.
- Managers reported that only 55% of their change management initiatives meet initial objectives, and only 25% sustain gains over the long term.
- Organizations are trying their best to address change effectively yet are continually falling short of the skills and resources demanded by accelerating change.
Why Change is Accelerating
Have you noticed the default response to the question “how are you?” has shifted from “fine” or “good” to “busy”? We feel this way because we’re inundated with understanding and navigating changes impacting all aspects of our lives. Ray Kurzweil is a futurist known for his forecasts and insights on accelerating change. Kurzweil explains that technology development is no longer about creating new tools, but rather using new technology to create even more powerful technology. It’s an exponential expansion through each round of innovation.
Technology innovation that we interface with every day, such as your smart phone, is only one accelerator. Organizations are being forced to confront the following major trends:
- Globalization – Competitors, consumers, and employees anywhere.
- The Gig Economy – Freelancers and independent professionals, temporary contractors, and consultants transforming who, when, and how work gets done.
- The Machine Economy – Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Cognitive Technology disrupting jobs and work processes long considered immune to this kind of displacement.
- The Internet of Things – Connecting people, devices, and intelligence shifts the ways of working, productivity capability and expectations, and the way we interact.
These trends help to explain why we are experiencing a pace of change that isn’t slowing down. In 2001, Kurzweil predicted: “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).”
Becoming intentional about leading through change management requires business leaders to understand what is impacting the pace of change, continue to invest in managing change, and taking action to develop new capabilities to effectively lead organizational change across all levels of the organization.
Our next article in the Pace of Change series focuses on how organizations approach change today: The Spotlight Effect.