The Recipe for Change Failure

I don’t think I have ever seen a clearer case for what needed to be done to achieve the change objective.

Yes, it would be an uphill battle with 2/3 of employees, the most influential employees and the leaders not believing the objective could be achieved.

However, leadership had an opportunity to turn things around. Employees and leaders were very committed to the company itself. They were well-knit together in the networks. The plan clearly spelled out what to do with whom by when and why. No doubt it was time for leadership to get into the mud and get their hands dirty.

They could not get others to do their ‘dirty laundry’. Change by representation would not win the change.

Regretfully the change still failed. The ingredients in their execution made it a recipe for failure.

The Innovisor Prescriptive Intelligence predicted the change to be balancing on the tipping point between success and failure – or the win and the woe zone – where execution with care and without hesitation was key.

Ingredient 1: Two Gatekeepers Between Project Team and Leadership

Firstly, the project team was not set up for success. It was too distanced from the leadership. Initially with one go-between before they could get in touch with the leader. Eventually with two go-betweens acting as gatekeepers for the project team to get in touch with leadership. The result was lack of information exchange.

Ingredient 2: Postponing Actions Instead of Doing it Now!

Secondly, when leadership finally was made aware of the loud call for action, they decided to postpone any actions. Using the summer holidays as a convenient excuse. Yes, the European summer holidays were approaching, but postponement delayed potential actions by several months.

The postponement just made everything worse.

People’s thoughts were not at a standstill just because of the summer holidays.

Why did the leaders not act? – Maybe because they were hoping for something magical outside of their own control to happen.

Ingredient 3: Delegating Responsibility to Outsiders

Thirdly, when they finally were ready to act, they hired a large team of management consultants to do the work for them. To facilitate focus groups, listening sessions, and all the other complex human interactions that otherwise would have required their own involvement.

The respect for leadership plummeted and the change was now on the fast track to failure. These activities could not be outsourced.

Who would the leaders blame for the failure? – The outsiders. The consultants.

This also played a role in hiring them in the first place.


You can have the greatest plan, but if you do not act on it with sufficient rigor and offer the right leadership support, then you will fail. This is number 5 out of 6 in the #SixChangeBlockers – and regretfully about 80% of change programs fail at this.

Read more about the Six Change Blockers on our new dedicated webpage.

six change blockers

Jeppe Vilstrup Hansgaard

Case written by

Jeppe Hansgaard

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