70 per cent of culture change projects fail. Why?

70 per cent of change projects fail[1]; a disheartening statistic for any business embarking on a culture transformation project. However, it doesn't come as much of a surprise to us.

More often than not, the fatal flaw of most projects can be found at inception, in the pre-execution, ?understanding? phase. Simply put, not enough time is spent on getting the basics right, meaning every decision made or action taken thereafter is built on faulty foundations. Unsurprisingly, the project eventually topples over.

Some of the key challenges that our clients face when commencing a culture change programme include:

  1. The business hasn't bought into the vision

Until recently it's not been quite clear where culture sits. Is it the responsibility of HR, Risk, or Compliance? While it's positive that culture was on the agenda in the first place, this has resulted in fragmented culture initiatives that lack support from the wider business and senior leadership.

  1. Trying to spin straw into gold

Most businesses are already assessing culture in some form. This is great but, more often than not, it's informed by historical data rather than up-to-date and continual behavioural assessment. And while existing, quantitative data like attrition or complaints data is hugely helpful and should absolutely be included in any culture programme, firms shouldn't be stopping there. Too much focus on what you can glean from existing data will drastically limit the scope of the project.

  1. Operating in siloes

Similarly, if the data gathering and assessment phase rushed, undervalued or focused on what's already available, then we often find that the data is limited to specific areas of the business. It's not validated or supported by newer forms of MI such as real-time digital trace data. Ultimately, this is only really assessing culture in a bubble, rather than getting the holistic view you need to make culture change stick.

So what can businesses do?

In our experience of working with our clients, it starts with having the right sponsors. Senior leaders really need to be driving these initiatives with involvement from all business lines. If the vision is articulated well, with tangible proof points to support a clear business case for change, then employees across the business are more likely to get fully behind it.   

It's then important to ask the question ?what do we actually want to measure??. Instead of drawing conclusions from what you?ve already got to hand, find new solutions to gather the data that will genuinely answer your questions and, crucially, do so on a continual basis. This is particularly true when it comes to behavioural diagnostics and qualitative data, which usually are not readily available.

Fundamentally, it all comes back to that famous Peter Drucker quote, ?culture eats strategy for breakfast?. If your vision isn't comprehensively mapped out, and your key stakeholders aren't bought into it, you?ll struggle to get your execution plans off the ground.

TCC is addressing all these stumbling blocks in its upcoming webinar, How to Transform your Culture. Join ex-FCA culture specialist Olivia Fahy, leading academic Dr Roger Miles, behavioural scientist Laurie Palmer and TCC's culture experts as they discuss how to implement real culture change that sticks. Join live at 10am on Wednesday 31 March 2021. Click here to register. Can't make that time? No problem. If you?ve registered, TCC will send you the webinar recording and supporting materials by email.