Happy New Year.
And congratulations: if you’re in the 41% of adults who made a new year’s resolution, chances are you’re still on track with it.
Of course, that may not last long. Studies suggest that, on average, 22% of new year resolutions fail within the first week. 40% within the first month. And, by year end, only 8% of resolutions will still be holding.
Sorry to bring you down like that, but it’s always best to be realistic about these things.
In any case, as failure rates go, that’s not dramatically worse than most corporate transformation projects.
Consultancy KPMG says only 30% of corporate transformation programmes achieve sufficient progress to be considered a success.
And, since the Project Management Institute estimates global transformation activity this year will account for around 65 million full time workers and $15 trillion in economic activity, that’s an awful lot of wasted time and money.
So don’t feel too bad about yourself as you’re hanging laundry on your otherwise unused cross-trainer. Most of us have been there. And, by and large, the reasons why most corporate transformations don’t work are pretty much the same.
For me, the three big ones are:
1. Lack of motivation. ‘Why?’ is always the most important question. It’s easy to give up drinking when you wake up hungover on January 1; less easy to stay on the wagon when you’re out with friends three weeks later. If you’re going to make the effort to do something difficult, there has to be a prize that makes it worthwhile. For most people in most businesses, the end goal of a transformation programme is often either something that doesn’t directly affect them (the business makes more money; the leadership team gets a bonus) or something they feel actively threatened by (they have to learn a new system; there may be fewer jobs). Change takes effort – so, unless the people in your business really want to change things, nothing will happen.
2. Lack of clarity. Most resolutions are framed in pretty vague terms (‘lose weight’, ‘learn a language’) and transformation programmes are often the same. There tends to be a lot of detail about ‘what’s wrong today’, but less detail about the steps to correct it: what will happen and when, who’s involved, what it will look and feel like for them and how progress will be measured. Without that clarity, it’s very difficult to generate and maintain momentum.
3. Lack of focus. Most resolutions run out of steam because life gets in the way (‘I’m too busy to go to the gym’, ‘The weather’s too depressing to give up chocolate now’). Transformation programmes are the same: priorities change, market conditions fluctuate, teams get shuffled, new opportunities crop up. In most cases, there isn’t a dedicated transformation team – it’s something people are doing on top of their day jobs. The more other things they’ve got to think about, the less likely they are to give it their best attention.
Of course, the good news is that all three of these points can be corrected with surprisingly little difficulty: you can make your resolution one of the 8% that sticks and your transformation programme one of the 30% that succeeds.
All it takes is more discipline in the planning, more engaging communication; and, of course, you have to want it enough.