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  • Writer's pictureLata Hamilton

When change fails

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

In Change Management, we often talk about "landing the change" or "making the change stick", which pretty much just means the impacted teams and stakeholders adopt the change and start doing what we expect and want - happily, confidently, and well into the future.

The fear of change failure is very real. But change failure in and of itself isn't. It all comes down to how you measure success. And how you define failure.

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we say: "There is no failure, only feedback." And we can apply the same rule to Change.

Instead of expecting that everything is going to come up roses when you launch, you need to notice the results. This is the "feedback". And another theme in NLP - notice what you're getting.

Here are 5 steps to help you make change land better:

1. Set Change success metrics - you can't know if your change has or hasn't landed if you don't know what your target is and, more importantly, how that target may improve or increase over time (see my articles on setting Change Visions and why change takes time)

2. Plan to the best of your ability - which may mean co-creating the change so it's change done with the team, not change done to the team, and you nip a lot of issues in the bud.

3. Announce or launch the change and notice the results - put feedback mechanisms in place, keep your ear to the ground, observe behaviour (because sometimes what people say and what people do are two very different things...)

4. Amend or add activity to revisit, reinforce or reset the change - having to do more to make the change stick is ok! Humans are complex creatures, change is scary and confusing, and no one can tell the future. Change usually isn't happening in a silo or vacuum and there may be a number of reasons why it's not landing. The important thing is that you're there to do whatever is needed to pivot and help it reach its target.

5. Redefine success - in some cases, you might need to go back to Step 1 and confirm you even had to right success metrics, especially if you didn't set realistic metrics over time.

Redefining our relationship with failure is one of the most powerful things we can do in Change. There is no failure - only feedback.

I'm Lata Hamilton - the Founder & CEO of Passion Pioneers, a Change Management consultancy specialising in digital transformation, operating model changes, and new ways of working and leadership.

Grab my free Creative Launch Ideas Guide with 53 ways to bring your next Change and Transformation to life - download it here.

And if you'd like my help with your next change or building leadership capability for your team, get in touch with me here.


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