70% of change initiatives fail

May 3, 2012 / By

Even with the best intentions, “the brutal fact is that about 70% of all change initiatives fail”. Workplace change is no exception. Few of the large multinational corporations exploring new ways of working have been able to roll out their change programs without encountering difficulties.

A series of barriers make it difficult to implement change such as lack of senior management support or visible engagement required to counter ego and legacy footholds; resistance of ‘rain makers’ to give up their big offices and the prestige that goes with them; mobility restrictions for certain employees and IT security issues.

In addition to these perennial challenges, when workplace change is deployed globally, a number of issues play out differently across Asia that may be less significant in Western countries. The diversity of local Asian cultures requires that workplace change programs be culturally adapted, not merely transplanted from west to east. Change programs satisfactorily implemented in the US or in Europe might not be as successful in Asia if cultural characteristics are overlooked.

Often compared to an iceberg, culture can be a difficult concept to grasp as assumptions, values and beliefs are often not articulated. Failing to address cultural issues as part of a workplace change initiative has serious implications for companies operating in Asia as they strive to improve talent attraction and retention and improve business productivity.

Our ‘guide to cross-cultural change’ infographic illustrates some of the macro-economic, real estate, and cultural variations that are vital to understand how to succeed in any workplace change program. A good starting point is to explore Geert Hofstede’s insights on national and organisational culture, with country scores for each dimension (“power distance”, “individualism”, “uncertainty avoidance”, etc.).

Next month, Jones Lang LaSalle’s Strategic Workplace Services team will release a publication helping companies grasp cultural complexities of the region in order to achieve sustainable workplace change. Watch this Space!


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