Are You One of The Successful 30%?

Processes are easy, people are tough … people naturally resist change.
Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers

by Lou Feldstein

Across multiple industries and sectors, experience and research indicates that when new processes and strategies are deployed, over 70% of them fail to achieve the desired outcomes. In simple math that means that only about 30% of change efforts are ever successful. Not the greatest odds.

Are you one of the 30% who gets to celebrates success, or are you part of the majority who throw your arms up in frustration every time you try something new, and it just doesn’t take?

While recently rereading, Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers (a wonderful book by Robert Kriegel and David Brandt) I came across this powerful description of why 70% of change strategies and processes fail.

“Change is rarely accepted readily. Why? Because when you get right down to it, people are the obstacles. The key to the success of any new process, system or strategy is implementation. And that’s about people. People have to execute. They have to support the new system {or strategy} or it will go nowhere. Processes are easy, people are tough … people naturally resist change.”

During the recent Georgia Center for Nonprofits’ Annual Conference I was invited to provide consulting services to participants in their “1-2-1 Solve-It Sessions”. Throughout the morning attendees would stop by seeking assistance with challenging issues. During my shift the Development Director of a mid-sized nonprofit stopped by to discuss her organization’s problem with getting board members to fundraise. Not an uncommon problem. As she explained it, however the issue was much more complicated.

Board involvement in fundraising had now become critical for her organization, due to increased funding demands. As we discussed her situation, what also became clear was that the board members neither understood nor embraced why they, and not just the professionals, now needed to raise funds. While fundraising had always been written as part of a Board member’s portfolio, it was never truly considered an expectation. Now, however, faced with this critical funding situation, Board members had to actively start raising money. Even after being told that they needed to fundraise, the majority of the Board members continued to have a laissez faire attitude toward this new expectation.

As we discussed her frustration it also became obvious that little had been done to engage the Board in understanding why the change was needed, or how to effectively partner with them in creating strategies that would create enthusiasm and buy-in.

To address her organization’s problem, we agreed that the leadership needed to take several steps back and develop a comprehensive board inclusive change process. While many months had been lost and much energy wasted, it wasn’t too late to reengage the Board and move the strategy ahead in a more effective and impactful manner. She left the table feeling more confident now that she better understood why nothing had happened, and had a strategy for how to successfully transition the board.

There are no truer words than: “If they aren’t there for the take off, don’t expect them to be there for the landing.”

As your organization, or department, looks at new processes and strategies ask these two simple questions:

  1. Do your colleagues accept and believe in the change?
  2. Do your staff and/or volunteers own the change?

If the answer to these questions is “yes”, success is possible (but still not guaranteed). If the answer to either of them is “no”, then experience, across all industries and sectors, teaches that the effort will struggle and valuable time and money wasted.

Every successful new strategy (whether minor or significant) begins and ends with the same common denominator – THE PEOPLE!

If you truly want to succeed and be part of the 30%, it is a lesson you can ill afford to forget.

Rabbi Louis Feldstein is the CEO of Dynamic Change Solutions, LLC an organizational enhancement and change management consulting firm focused on the nonprofit and faith-based sectors.