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| 1 minute read

Do 70% of change initiatives really fail?

At conference after conference, we continue to hear the statistic that up to 70% of change initiatives fail. For many people this resonates with the challenges of driving organizational change. However, while this statistic is frequently cited, it can be considered an urban myth. A 2011 study in the Journal of Change Management found no empirical evidence to support this statistic. Moreover, there was no credible evidence to support the notion that even 50% of organizational change efforts fail. If you think critically, this makes sense. There are so many change initiatives underway within organizations around the globe, and there is no centralized method to track and report on success vs. failure.

The research traced the mythical 70% failure rate back to a 1993 book called "Reengineering the Corporation", in which Michael Hammer and James Champy stated: “our unscientific estimate is that as many as 50 percent to 70 percent of the organizations that undertake a reengineering effort do not achieve the dramatic results they intended.”

From that point on, an “unscientific estimate” became a reliable statistic that people quoted without question. 

In saying all this, driving and embedding change is hard and often takes longer than you anticipate - even if the change you are proposing is clearly in the interests of your target audience. Human beings are not always rational actors.

Through Legal Operations by Shearman, our Shearman Acceler8 methodology helps our clients address the people, process, technology and data challenges that can inhibit change for any in-house law department. If you would like to learn more, take a look at our microsite or get in touch.



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