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  • Writer's pictureStephen Harden

An Amazingly Simple Checklist for Successful Change Initiatives

Use this checklist to beat the 70% failure rate of change initiatives.

It will help you assess your Patient Safety or Quality Improvement Project and improve the likelihood of success


Do 70% of Change Initiatives Really Fail? Yes. Check out this research on failure rates:

  • McKinsey and Company: A recent survey of business executives indicates that the number of change programs that are considered successful is still only 30% of those attempted.

  • IBM: Nearly 60% of projects aimed at achieving business change do not fully meet their objectives.

  • Harvard Business Review: The brutal fact is that about 70% of all change initiatives fail.

  • Forbes/Towers Watson: A new study by Towers Watson has found that only 25% of change management initiatives are successful over the long term.

  • Connor Partners: Change practitioners have some culpability for the atrocious 70% failure rate of change initiatives.

Why are Failure Rates so High?

A review of five recent studies into the failure of change initiatives revealed 28 different reasons. Two themes consistently emerge from these 28 root causes:

  1. Communication: Primarily the poor ability to communicate what must be changed, why it's important to change it, and how to make the change happen

  2. Stakeholder Management: Failure to get to the table the key leadership stakeholders without whom the change cannot happen, and once at the table, failure to get them to take the actions needed to make the change stick.

What Can You Do About It?

Download and Run this Roadmap to Sustainable Change Checklist. (Scroll to the bottom of the page to download the checklist. As you're scrolling, read all about the great work leaders are doing with the aid of this checklist. It's free!) It will immediately reveal if you’ve taken the actions necessary to overcome the two main reasons for failure. Here's a list of just a few of the critical change management actions covered by this checklist:

  • Setting a key result that motivates staff

  • Over-communicating the “Why” of the change

  • Identifying behaviors and processes that must be mandatory

  • Role modeling needed behaviors by leaders and key stakeholders

  • Verifying that new behaviors and processes are being used

  • Transparently sharing your project’s metrics

  • Using “good catch” programs

  • Coaching low performers

After 20 years and over 225 change management projects for health care organizations all over the world, it’s clear to me that if you can’t answer “Yes” to a least 75% of the questions on the checklist, the odds of success for your project are very slim.

Your patients deserve better care, not just a change project started on a “wing and prayer.” Your staff deserves more than being saddled with “just another flavor-of-the-month” project. You deserve to get off the change management hampster wheel. Download your checklist today.

Schedule an appointment to see how a LifeWings patient safety consultant can help you meet your goals.

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