75% of Organization Change Initiatives Tend to Fail


            Organizational change is inevitable, given the dynamism of the business environment. Organizations embrace new changes to align with the changes in the internal and external factors that influence business, such as political, social, economic, and technological[1]. In the argument by Olena, organizations can change to adopt new technology, change business culture, or when it wants to change the leadership.[2] Change comes with various benefits to an organization, such as attracting new customers, eliminating barriers, boosting overall performance. Although change is an essential element in the lifecycle of a business, it is not always a guarantee of success. Approximately 75% of organizational change initiatives tend to fail to complicate the process of change management. This paper examines the change management process to understand why some organizations fail and others succeed in their change management process.

Success in a change initiative

             The success of an organizational change can be influenced by the decisions made before implementing the change process. The success in the change initiative is contributed by properly adhering to the change process explained in Kotter’s 8-step change model and in the Lewin’s Step Change model. Kotters and Lewin provides closely related steps that organization can follow to implement the change process[3]. There are some factors that they both emphasize, such as open communication to counter resistance and prepare the employees for the change process. Additionally, both change models argue the importance of reinforcing the change by making it part of the organizational culture.[4] This means the organization should create new policies and a code of conduct to help onboarding new employees that come after the change process.

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

            Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model provides steps organizations should follow to establish a successful organizational change process. Kotter stated that the first step is creating a sense of urgency in the change management process. The first step of creating urgency is identifying threats that are likely to affect the organization in the future. The organization should hold an open and honest discussion that brings all parties to the discussion table.[5] Open discussions allow employees to raise their issues of concern with regard to the new anticipated changes. The second step is forming a powerful guiding coalition, which means identifying the frontline employees will help to drive the change process. The third step of change management is establishing a vision that can help to bring all the parties together.[6] The fourth step is communication because it helps bring all the parties together to a common goal. For instance, when an organization wants to enter into an acquisition process, the management should inform the employees of the reason behind the move. Husain notes that communication is a great way of easily tension and cynicism that cloud the workplace when employees anticipate a possibility of losing their jobs their positions.[7] Additionally, open communication is vital for enhancing the connection and teamwork required to actualize the changes. The fifth step of a successful organizational change initiative is by removing the obstacles. Obstacles are any form of resistance from the employees which can affect the actualization of the change process[8]. This step can include offering additional information to ease tension and pledging rewards after the completion of the change process. The sixth step is creating a short-term win, which employees can use to identify the progress of the project. Short-term wins help motivate the employees because they create a sense of achievement. Consolidating gains is the seventh step which includes analyzing changes in every step of the process to enhance operation. The last step is anchoring the change into the culture of the organization[9]. Managers should reinforce the change by making it part of the operation.

Kurt Lewin 3-Step Method

            Lewin provides three major steps that can help to promote a smooth change process in the organization. The three steps of change management are; unfreezing, changing, and refreezing.[10] Lewin’s model is related to Kotter’s 8-step strategy of change management. Unfreezing strategy involves creating awareness about the change process. The management should inform the employees and other stakeholders about the need for new changes in the organization. This step is achieved through open communication. Like in Kotter’s method, communication helps to ease fear among employees because they understand the reason behind the move by the organization, therefore less skeptical about the new changes.[11] Cummings notes that the changing step is the implementation of the changing process.[12] The change step requires good planning and collaboration with other parties in the process. Teamwork is critical during the change process because it helps to bring different ideas together. The third stage is refreezing, which involves reinforcing the change that the organization has conducted. Cruz notes that refreezing is about making the changes part of the culture of the organization.[13] This can include forming new policies and regulations to guide employees, which can also be used in training new hires to align them with the new culture of the company.

Failure in a change initiative

            One of the reasons that can lead to the failure of the change process is lacking a clear reason for the change. Organizations that do not understand the necessity for making some changes are prone to experience anxiety and resistance among employees.[14]. The change process is mostly influenced by the desire to boost financial returns, reduce costs, or boost the overall corporate image. However, in some organizations, managers make decisions without engaging other players to help identify different alternatives for addressing the needs of the organization. It is vital for managers to engage all the players during a change process to develop a strong strategy.

Poor leadership is a factor that can contribute to the failure of a change initiative. Leaders are required to have a vision that they should share with their employees. Longhui and Evelyn point out that leaders help in addressing the resistance arising against the change process.[15] Leadership styles such as transformation leadership styles can help to bring people together with a common goal. Transformational leaders collaborate with their subjects to establish a strong team that is geared towards achieving a common vision.[16] Change initiative fails when the manager makes all the decisions without engaging other parties. For instance, authoritative leaders make all the decisions and compel the employees to adhere to the decisions without their contribution, therefore leading to high chances of discontentment and resistance.

Personal perspective

            I agree with the argument presented in the section that explains why some change initiatives succeed. Most organizations fail in their change process because they do not adhere to the right steps required to implement the desired changes. As stated in Kotter’s 8-step, the first step is to create urgency, which I think most managers fail to follow. Most managers who fail in the change process rush into making a decision without adequate research on the issue of concern. Husain argues that organizations should collaborate with diverse parties to develop the right reasons behind a given change.[17] For instance, before engaging in an acquisition or a merger, managers must conduct extensive research on the impact the move will have on the organization and its stakeholders. Like in the freezing stages, the manager should examine the potential barriers to the implementation of the changes. Proper preparation for the change process is critical for enhancing the chances of success. Husain argues that consultation with the experts can be a huge step towards promoting the changes process.[18] The management should engage the experts to conduct market research to help in identifying the possible repercussions of the decisions.

I believe that communication is a vital factor in the success of any change process in the organization. Widyanti argues that organizational communication is vital for the accomplishment of tasks and roles assigned to the employees in the organization.[19] Widyanti defines organizational communication as the process of conveying information related to the organization to the employees and other stakeholders.[20] Communication is vital for bringing all the employees together and aligning them with the overall vision of the organization. As argued in Lewin’s 3-step model, open communication promote team spirit because employees feel engaged in the operation process. Open communication brings employees together to support the change process.[21] I think communication helps monitor the change process, enabling managers to make adjustments as they proceed.


            The success or failure of an organizational change initiative depends on the approach embraced by the management. The management has a huge role to play in ensuring that the change process is well streamlined to achieve the anticipated objectives. As stated, to achieve success in the change process, the management should align with the steps captured in Kotter’s or Lewin’s models. The models explain the importance of creating urgency and eliminating barriers as the first stages of the change process. In addition to this, managers should collaborate with experts such as consulting firms to help conduct extensive research on the possible outcome of the change process. On the other hand, the failure is contributed by the failure of proper planning and having a clear reason for the change. Additionally, the wrong leadership style can contribute to the failure of the change process. Leadership style such as authoritative can hinder the contribution of other employees, therefore, lead to internal discontentment. In this regard, open communication is highly important in bringing all the parties together. Communication helps to motivate employees and helps to identify areas that require to be adjusted.